When it comes to our mobility and physical capabilities, there is nothing more important than our spine, which is why spinal curvature disorders can be so disruptive and distressing.
Essentially, a spinal curvature disorder means that the normal shape of the spine is altered somehow, and this manifests in three main types: scoliosis, kyphosis and lordosis.
Scoliosis is the disorder that most people have heard of, and is defined as a spine that does not run straight up the back, but rather has an S- or C-curve when seen from behind. Kyphosis is when the top of your spine is abnormally rounded, while lordosis manifests as an intense inward bend of the spine of the lower back. The causes for each of these disorders are slightly different; kyphosis and lordosis have quite a few similar causes, including osteoporosis, slipped vertebrae, spine infections and abnormal bone growth. Scoliosis, oddly enough, appears to run in families, and the exact cause has yet to be identified.
All three of these conditions can result in back pain and discomfort, lack of flexibility and mobility, forward head position, and a lower quality of life due to constant awareness and adjustment. Scoliosis, in extreme cases, can even cause difficulties for the function of a person’s heart and lungs, which puts additional strain on the body as a whole.
Spinal curvature disorders range greatly in terms of severity and speed of progression, but consulting with an Osteopath or physical therapist is always recommended. We can help to create greater elasticity in your spine by manipulation and this helps it to straighten. Manipulation of the surrounding muscles either through Osteopathy treatment or through Therapeutic Massage can also help the spine to correct itself.
‘Traditional’ treatments for spinal curvature disorders include surgery, back braces and medication, but that isn’t appealing to everyone who suffers with these conditions. There are a number of non-invasive remedies that can be used to improve the strength and stability of the spine, or at least reduce the discomfort of the symptoms.
Sitting Less: When we sit down for long periods of time, our posture tends to suffer. The top of our back hunches over, our shoulders cave in, and we put excess stress on our spine and vertebrae. Unfortunately, standing for long periods of time can increase tension and strain on the spine as well. If you suffer from the spinal curvature disorder of kyphosis, you should remain active and mobile, not hunching your shoulders over while sitting (worsening the condition), nor standing for long periods. Lordosis and scoliosis are less affected by sitting, but sufferers of those disorders report that standing evenly on both legs does reduce back pain.
Losing Weight: Obesity does not help with the severity or discomfort of spinal curvature disorders. This unnecessary weight puts excess strain on your spine and vertebrae, making your condition even worse, and making it much more difficult to correct. Losing weight through a proper diet and exercise is an important foundation before more formal treatments can be helpful in relieving these disorders.
Stretching More: Your shoulders and hip flexors are seriously affected by spinal curvature disorders, and can be major sources of pain, either due to poor posture, hunched shoulders, or constant compensation for a crooked spine. By using resistance bands to strengthen your hip flexors and shoulder muscles, you can prevent the inflammation and pain that often accompanies these conditions.
Exercising: While spinal curvature disorders can be painful, limiting, or even debilitating, it is important to engage in regular exercise, both to keep yourself in good physical shape, but also to improve circulation and strength throughout the body, particularly the back and spine. Exercising your core can help improve lordosis, while general resistance training and cardiovascular workouts can benefits your overall health and make your body more receptive to treatment and therapy to straighten your spine.
Diet is important too and a wide variety of foods can greatly help:
Alfalfa: The high concentration of vitamin K found in alfalfa helps the body tightly connect bone cells and improve bone density, along with a number of other minerals found in this unassuming plant. With stronger bones, the treatments and physical therapy to reverse or moderate the effects of scoliosis can be improved and sped up. Scoliosis is not as reversible as the other two forms of spinal curvature disorder, and tends to get chronically worse over time. Therefore, moderating therapies to slow down the progression are important, combined with a mineral-rich diet.
Oregano: Oregano has a naturally anti-inflammatory and soothing effect on the body, which also helps the muscles that surround the spine relax, thus reducing pain and allowing more flexibility in that area of the body. Rubbing in essential oil of oregano has been known as a remedy for scoliosis pain, and may actually improve the chances of being able to straighten the spine, due to the many antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of the essential oil.
Peppermint and Thyme: It has been found that the slow build up of microbes in the spine of someone suffering from scoliosis can exacerbate or speed up the process of spine malformation. Peppermint and thyme oils are wonderful natural antibiotics that can be rubbed directly on the spine or area of inflammation to boost your immune system and eliminate that gradual build up of pathogens that can compromise your spinal integrity.