The truth is, there is a lot of rubbish posted about scoliosis online and it can sometimes be difficult to separate fact from fiction.
In this post I’ve shared the 8 most common scoliosis myths, some of which I believed when I was first diagnosed.
Myth 1: Scoliosis is caused by carrying a heavy backpack
The most common type of scoliosis is Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis which there is no known cause for. It is not fully understood why scoliosis develops in these cases, but carrying a backpack is definitely not the cause.
Other types of scoliosis which are less common, can be caused by defects at birth (congenital) or as a result of degeneration in the spine (degenerative scoliosis).
Myth 2: Scoliosis doesn’t cause pain
All cases of scoliosis are different – some people with scoliosis may not have any pain, whilst others may have significant pain that impacts their daily lives. I certainly experience pain as a result of my scoliosis and for me, this was the case both pre and post surgery. It’s not true to say that scoliosis “in general” does not cause pain.
Myth 3: All cases of scoliosis require surgery
Most cases of scoliosis actually don’t require surgery and milder cases can be treated by bracing, physiotherapy or monitoring. It all depends on the severity of the scoliosis and the age at diagnosis. Only very severe scoliosis, or scoliosis that is progressing very quickly, will likely require surgery.
Myth 4: You should not exercise if you have scoliosis
If you have scoliosis, it is actually important to exercise and keep moving to keep the back and core muscles strong. This can help to reduce pain and stiffness and support the spine. Exercises like pilates, swimming, walking and cycling can be beneficial. Always check with your doctor before exercising and trying anything new, especially post spinal fusion surgery, as you’ll need to make sure you are properly recovered first.
Myth 5: Scoliosis can be prevented
Scoliosis cannot be prevented, and this ties back to Myth 1 – there is often no cause for scoliosis and there is nothing a person can do to prevent it from developing.
Myth 6: Scoliosis can be cured by physio
This is a common scoliosis myth, and you’ll find many sites online claiming to “cure” scoliosis through exercise. The reality is that physiotherapy can be effective for people with scoliosis in terms of pain management, or helping to improve strength or posture. However, physiotherapy cannot “fix” or straighten a scoliosis curve. The only way to straighten a severe scoliosis curve or stop progression is by spinal fusion surgery, and even this is not guaranteed to straighten it fully. Minor curves in growing children can be also be treated and reduced by bracing.
Myth 7: Scoliosis is caused by bad posture
Scoliosis is not caused by sitting or standing in a certain way. There is no cause in most cases and it is not caused by anything you did or did not do.
Myth 8: Scoliosis affects your ability to have children
Scoliosis does not affect a persons ability to have children. I know many people with scoliosis who have had children and had no problems at all in relation to their scoliosis. If you are worried about this, speak to your doctor.
You can also watch my video about scoliosis myths above.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor but I have researched this post with information from the Scoliosis Association UK and the NHS. For more information, these sites are trusted resources.
I had scoliosis surgery in 2010 and blog about my experiences living with scoliosis. My aim is to raise awareness of scoliosis and help and inspire others with the condition.