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Working and Managing Scoliosis at the Same Time

10 June 2021

Nothing is more inconvenient and daunting than working with chronic pain.

One example of which is scoliosis. Scoliosis is an illness where the spine curves sideways and causes severe pain to those afflicted by it. Approximately 8- 10 million Americans or two to 3 percent of the population are managing life with scoliosis. It has no cure but the management of pain is a must to reduce the negative effects of its symptoms.

Scoliosis is not a linear illness, so one case is not the same as another.

That said, the severity or mildness is not the same and consistent with everyone that has it. However, one characteristic that can be noted across all the ones who have scoliosis is that the spine forms either an “S” or “C” shape. Some would have symptoms that are mild but worsens eventually. Some would be born with it while others gradually get afflicted with it as they age. 

Some symptoms characterized in adult scoliosis is uneven shoulders and hips, trouble walking, difficulty standing up straight, a hump in the back, bony growth near the joints of the spine, feeling full even when you are not while eating due to the pressure being pushed by the spine in the belly, numbness, pain or any distinctive weakness of the legs. 

Some patients also experience unevenness in the legs which also affects walking. Stiffness on one side of the body also affects the muscles surrounding the spine as it is forced to compensate for the unevenness of the spinal curvature. 

Patients also report feeling like being pulled from one side of the body along with back pain. Balancing would be met with great difficulty and would have a psychological effect of refraining from normal activities as it may affect the spine.

The feeling of fragility and the progression of the curvature making the body more inflexible and rigid is also present. Deformities in the ribs are also noted in some and this may cause the lungs to be incapable of taking in and containing air when you breathe deeply.

There are treatments available for patients with scoliosis.

But the recommendations of spine doctors vary depending on the patient's age, whether they are still developing their body, the level and type of curvature present, and what type of scoliosis it is. The type of scoliosis is categorized by the following:

  • Idiopathic scoliosis which has no known cause and is broken down by age groups.
  • Congenital and Neurological are the types wherein there is a known cause. As the name implies the former are people born with it and the latter is when the scoliosis is caused by abnormalities in the nerves.
  • Structural scoliosis is the term used where the illness is permanent and caused by a disease, a fall or injury, and birth defects. Nonstructural scoliosis is the term used for cases that can still be fixed eventually by treatments. 

Bracing is one of the treatments that are available to manage the symptoms of scoliosis. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, this is recommendable to people still in their developing age which has a curve between 25 to 40 degrees. The goal of having a brace is not really to straighten up the spine but to reduce the worsening of the curvature.

One of the advantages of having a scoliosis symptom detected early is having braces recommended and not having to live with the adverse effects of worsening curvatures like severe pain and difficulty of breathing.

Chiropractors are also recommended in managing the severe back pain in scoliosis and also preventing the conditions from getting worse. It is not a cure, however, it does help in increasing flexibility of the spine and rigidness associated with this illness. Other goals of chiropractic treatments are restoring mobility and curvature reduction.

For people with a spinal curvature of more than 40 degrees, surgery could be an option as a treatment. Severe discomfort and disruption of daily life activities are the primary reasons to get surgery for scoliosis. Spinal Fusion is a major surgery that lasts 4 to 8 hours depending on the curvature and full recovery of the patient is approximately between 6 to 12 months.

Statistically, curve correction is approximated at 70% while complications are at the low of 2 to 3 %. This type of surgery enables the bones to grow together and it is permanent.

In most cases, patients opt for pain management instead of invasive surgery especially if the symptoms are not that severe but the pain is always present. These types of therapies are mostly undergone just to manage the pain and not reduce nor correct the spinal curvature itself. 

An example of these types of therapies is hydrotherapy wherein the use of water is used. Note that swimming has long been an activity recommended for people with scoliosis. Because the pressure on the spine is reduced as the water makes the patient buoyant as he or she exercises and keeps active.

Speaking of which, exercise and stretching are great ways to keep the mobility and flexibility of people with scoliosis. It might not reduce the curvature but it does help with the symptoms. This is especially true for the pain associated with movement. That along with pain management prescriptions is a great way to keep the symptoms at a minimum or none at all.

These are great ways to manage life with scoliosis but additionally, having and using certain furniture that alleviates the symptom or helps to minimize pain associated with illness is a smart choice. The Soutien Ergonomic Office Chair is great as it comes with an excellent spine and arm support for workers managing back pain.

It has a 135-degree lounge tilt that supports stretching your back and 4D adjustable armrests that support comfort and changes of position while working. It is built in Samhongsa Class 4 Gas Lift and certified by experts for safety and comfort. With that said, it is designed for longevity and with spine health in mind. Check on this product at FlexiSpot.