Adult Scoliosis Pain Management: Stretching, Yoga & Exercises
Approximately six million Americans live with scoliosis, with an estimated 6% of adults over the age of 50 having some degree of scoliosis. Scoliosis is a condition that typically develops in childhood, but can follow into adulthood, causing nearly 25% of sufferers distressing or even excruciating pain.
Scoliosis pain in adults ranges from mild to severe and it has the potential to limit mobility and decrease quality of life. Standard scoliosis treatments fail to deliver effective, long-lasting pain relief, which leaves many adult sufferers feeling helpless.
Fortunately, alternative treatments are out there. Surprisingly simple yet consistently effective, these options reduce pain and restore quality of life. Continue reading to learn more.
Living with Adult Scoliosis Pain
There are three types of adult scoliosis pain: joint inflammation, mechanical pain, and nerve pain.
- Joint inflammation starts off fairly mild – especially in patients who have not undergone any formal treatment – and progresses into arthritis of the spine or spondylosis.
- Mechanical pain results from stress on the muscles surrounding and stabilizing the spine and leads to poor posture, lower back pain, and cramping or numbness in the legs.
- Nerve pain is caused by inflammation or compression of the spine and may lead to loss of coordination and numbness or weakness in the lower extremities.
Adult scoliosis is generally divided into two types: degenerative and idiopathic.
Degenerative scoliosis usually involves a fairy low degree of spinal curvature and may cause mechanical pain and minor symptoms such as chronic neck, back, and hip pain.
Idiopathic scoliosis is scoliosis of unknown cause. It typically peaks during adolescence and progresses slowly into adulthood, causing chronic and often debilitating symptoms such as nerve or mechanical pain, changes in gait or posture, restricted breathing, reduced range of motion, and limited mobility. Physicalsymptoms of scoliosis pain may contribute to mental symptoms like anxiety, depression, and reduced quality of life.
Can Simple Lifestyle Changes Improve Scoliosis Pain?
Though many traditional treatments for adult scoliosis pain ultimately fail to offer any long-term relief, there are other options. Alternative treatments for scoliosis are focused primarily on relieving pain and improving quality of life.
Here are some options to consider:
- Wear warm clothing. Cold weather can exacerbate scoliosis pain; wearing layered clothing to warm the joints may help.
- Use heat therapy. If wearing warm clothing is not enough, taking a hot bath or applying heat packs to affected areas may reduce pain.
- Eat anti-inflammatory foods. A diet of fiber-rich whole grains and veggies, plus healthy fats and probiotic foods, may reduce inflammation and mitigate scoliosis pain.
- Take joint-supporting supplements. Fish oil capsules are rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Turmeric may reduce pain and inflammation. Vitamin D3 improves bone density. Magnesium supports bone and spine health.
In addition to following an anti-inflammatory diet and supplementing the intake of bone- and joint-supporting nutrients, regular exercise can work wonders for scoliosis pain. Rigorous exercise is not recommended, but stretching, yoga, and low-impact exercise can strengthen stabilizing muscles in the body to relieve stiffness and reduce scoliosis pain.
Stretching Toward Scoliosis Pain Relief
The most obvious benefit of stretching is an increase in muscle flexibility, but it also has many other benefits. Improving muscle flexibility and range of motion can protect against injury, improve posture, and relieve stress; it may also relieve adult scoliosis pain.
Scoliosis is characterized by a curvature of the spine that prohibits healthy movement. In a healthy person, the spine moves side to side, but in a spine affected by scoliosis, movement in one direction can be limited. Certain stretches can effectively re-educate the spine, resolving some of the imbalance caused by scoliosis and reducing pain.
While it may seem like stretching the muscles around your spine would increase scoliosis pain, stretching with the spinal curvature encourages the muscles to contract and shorten, effectively correcting the imbalance.
Here are some stretching exercises to try for scoliosis pain management:
#1: Stretch and Reach
Determine which of your legs is slightly longer and use that leg to step onto a small box. Step back with your opposite leg and lower your body, bending at the knee as far as you are able. While descending, raise the arm on the same side of your lowered leg as high into the air as you can. Return to the starting position, then repeat for 2-3 sets of 5-10 reps, all on one side.
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