Could your back pain be a symptom of a serious condition?

Almost everyone will experience back pain at some point in their life. But how do you know when it’s just a passing ache, and when it could be more serious?

Have you noticed a change in your (or a loved one’s) appearance, such as the development of uneven shoulders or an uneven gait? Is this accompanied by back pain, breathing issues, or a premature feeling of fullness? If so, it could be an indication of a condition called scoliosis.

What is scoliosis?

Scoliosis is characterised by an abnormal sideways curvature of the spine (typically in an ‘S’ or ‘C’ shape). It most commonly develops just before puberty, although it can occur at any age. 

The severity of scoliosis varies from mild deformities to more pronounced spinal distortions. The exact cause is often unknown, although it can be associated with genetic factors, neuromuscular conditions, and congenital spine anomalies.

Four symptoms you need to watch out for

So how do you know if you may have scoliosis? Dr. Tony Nalda, leader of the Scoliosis Reduction Center, discusses four signs of scoliosis that require a prompt medical assessment. 

1) Pain, discomfort and muscle fatigue

Persistent or recurring back pain (especially in children and teenagers) should be evaluated for scoliosis. Spinal curvature puts extra strain on your muscles, nerves, and ligaments, and can also cause muscle fatigue, especially in the back and shoulders.

This is because extra effort is needed to maintain posture and balance. People with scoliosis may also experience leg pain, or numbness and weakness.

2) Feeling full prematurely

Severe cases of scoliosis can impact the function of your stomach and digestive system, as the significant curvature of your spine exerts pressure on your abdominal area. This can lead to feelings of premature fullness, or discomfort after eating.

3) Struggling to breathe

In extreme cases of scoliosis, the spine curvature can be over 70 degrees. This can compress your lungs and make breathing harder, especially during physical activity.

If you notice that you’re struggling for breath with no other identifiable cause, you should definitely get checked out for scoliosis, as cases that impact a patient’s breathing are among the most serious.

4) A change in appearance and movement

Someone with scoliosis may develop uneven shoulders or have one shoulder blade that protrudes more than the other. Another sign of scoliosis is the development of an uneven waist, or one hip that sticks out more. Prominent ribs or loss of height can be additional signs of scoliosis.

Look out for any noticeable changes in gait, such as leaning on one side, striding unevenly, or battling to maintain balance.

Get your symptoms checked by a doctor

The sooner people are diagnosed, the quicker they can receive treatment. In turn, they can maximise their health and enjoy their lives to the fullest.

So if you, your child, or your loved one are showing any of these warning signs, it’s best to get them promptly checked out by a professional.

The Scoliosis Reduction Center is focused on treating your scoliosis in the most patient-centred and effective manner possible.

The key differentiation between Dr. Nalda and other types of scoliosis treatment is he takes a conservative intensive approach, which differs from traditional treatment approaches. No other brand has specific guidelines outside of that currently.