Is your scoliosis a scapegoat? Many patients have back or neck pain that is unfairly blamed on incidental and innocent scoliosis. In fact, only a very small percentage of abnormal side to side curvature of the vertebral column is symptomatic in any way. However, some scoliosis patients do endure back pain. So, why do their backs hurt if not from their atypical curvature?
Scapegoats exist throughout the medical industry and are in great supply in the back and neck pain sector. So many structural issues are blamed constantly for causing pain, when research and clinical evidence all point to a general lack of pathology associated with the condition. This statement applies to such diagnoses as degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, spinal osteoarthritis, facet joint degeneration, lordosis and kyphosis abnormalities, vertebral misalignment and of course, scoliosis.
This extremely important article details a concept that every scoliosis patient must understand. Scoliosis can act as a scapegoat for pain, even when it is innocent of all blame in the causation of symptoms. If scoliosis is mistakenly judged to be the source of pain, then all treatment will be in vain and misdirected. Unfortunately, since most scoliosis care is often surgical in nature, this might mean that the patient must face the worst fate imaginable of a barbaric spinal operation without justification or need.
Scoliosis Scapegoat Defined
Scapegoat conditions accept blame for causing pain when they are actually innocuous. In essence, the condition is indeed present, but is not pathological or symptomatic. It is merely there, doing no harm, despite visual evidence of its presence.
Scoliosis can act as a scapegoat, but this does not mean that it is completely harmless in every case. Some scoliosis progresses to the point of creating terrible symptoms, while other cases progress far enough to cause some degree of functional deficit or pain. However, these circumstances are not typical and certainly do not represent the average case of idiopathic scoliosis.
Therefore, if you are one of those unfortunate few who do suffer from very significant curvature that is indeed pathological, please do not send us angry letters or unenlightened comments. We are advocating for you, as well, but must speak to the masses, as they can be easily led into unnecessary treatment or suffer horrible mindbody effects if they believe that their minor curvatures are pathological. We understand the severity of your condition and acknowledge that it is certainly possible to be disabled by extreme scoliotic curvature. However, please understand that you are in the overwhelming minority of people who are diagnosed with scoliosis. Only 1% to 3% of diagnosed cases will ever involve problematic symptoms that are directly caused by the curvature itself. This is proven fact.
Spinal Curvature Scapegoat Incidence
As reported above, between 97% and 99% of scoliosis is asymptomatic and will remain so. The body has learned to adapt to the structural abnormality and has proven once again that the human anatomy is a very actively intelligent, intuitive and versatile form.
Symptomatic cases of scoliosis are usually caused by known mechanisms, such as varieties of congenital scoliosis or neuromuscular scoliosis. Most idiopathic forms are innocent, despite possibly creating dramatic postural changes in the anatomy.
We estimate that the vast majority of people who are in treatment for scoliosis-related pain are being mismanaged. Most of these patients do not enjoy the benefit of an accurate diagnosis linking the curvature to any form of spinal pathology. They usually do not have the benefit of a confirmed cause of pain in fact, but are receiving care nevertheless. Instead of clueless, general treatment for dorsalgia, these patients would be best served pursuing diagnostic evaluation of alternative causations until one can be verified and then successfully resolved using targeted, curative care practices instead of symptomatic therapy.
Don’t Be a Victim of a Scoliosis Scapegoat
In the 3 decades I have spent working within the chronic pain sector of medicine, I have come to embrace the concept of scapegoat conditions as one of the leading causes of the modern pain epidemic. So many structural abnormalities are blamed for creating pain, when no evidence exists linking them to any form of pathology. Medical science teaches doctors that “atypical structure does not accurately predict pain”, but then doctors seem to disregard this valuable lesson as soon as they enter private practice and realize just how profitable treating innocent structural abnormalities truly is.
Learn the facts of any diagnosed condition for yourself. When it comes to scoliosis, you will find that like most scapegoats, the potential is there for pathology to exist. Not all cases are innocent. However, most causes are innocent and those which are not are obvious and do not fall within the “typical range” experienced by over 97% of diagnosed patients. Blaming pain on mild to moderate scoliosis goes against all accepted medical research and anatomical fact. This is not to say that it is impossible to experience pain from lesser degrees of spinal curvature. It is only stating the basic truth that it is the exception to the rule of asymptomatic nature of the condition.