Scoliosis, straight spine syndrome, and flatback syndrome are medical disorders that could lead to back pain.
What is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a condition where the spine has “a complex three-dimensional deformity”. The spine may have an “S” or even a “?” shape to it when it is viewed from behind. The causes may be congenital (from birth), idiopathic (unknown), or “secondary to a primary condition”. The idiopathic scoliosis types are adult, adolescent, juvenile, or infantile, depending on the timing of the onset. Scoliosis could be secondary to another neuromuscular condition, such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida, or it can be due to physical trauma or certain medical syndromes. The most common type of scoliosis is “late-onset idiopathic scoliosis” and it is “self-limiting even without treatment” and “physiologically harmless”.
Treatments include braces for patients to wear, sometimes plaster casts, and even surgery. For patients with “curves with a high likelihood of progression”, surgeons might perform anterior or posterior fusion surgery. There are also other surgical procedures, but the risks of any scoliosis surgery are high: nerve injuries, bleeding, breathing impairments, and inflammation are some of the potential resulting issues.1
Straight Spine Syndrome and Flatback Syndrome
There are other conditions where the spine is not properly aligned. Straight spine syndrome can be caused by forward head posture. This can be problematic for many occupations. Over time, nerve roots in the cervical (neck) region may become compressed. Corrective exercises, proper posture, and education about ergonomics can prevent many of the problems of SSS.2 Sometimes patients who undergo spinal surgery can develop what is known as “flat back syndrome” or “flatback syndrome”. This should not be confused with SSS. In flatback syndrome, the lower back loses its lordosis (curvature). These patients are “pitched forward” and are “unable to stand upright”. This syndrome may be one of the lower back pain causes. Patients could have lower left back pain or lower right back pain.3 Flatback syndrome is most commonly caused by “instrumentation, such as Harrington rods” used in scoliosis surgery. The pain may be such that patients need to undergo revision surgery to remove the rods, replace the instrumentation, or have “osteotomies (cutting through the previous spinal fusion)”. Of course, further surgeries carry additional risks.4
Before considering surgery for scoliosis, neck pain, or back pain, some patients might wish to seek chiropractic evaluation and treatment. Chiropractors provide non-invasive treatments, and practitioners often prescribe stretches and exercises that patients can practice at home, between visits. Chiropractic treatments and manipulation are conservative care options that may reduce pain and other compensating symptoms.5
Find out more about chiropractic for scoliosis.