5 ways to describe scoliosis pain
Living with a chronic back condition such as scoliosis is tough. But what does it really feel like living with scoliosis? What does scoliosis pain feel like? For those of us that live everyday with the condition, it can be hard to explain to those close to us how it feels. It can be difficult for others to understand what it’s really like. I tend to just get on with things and I try to take control of the condition by being as active as possible. Because of this though, many people just don’t realise what I deal with everyday and how scoliosis has affected me.
I thought I’d attempt at articulating what scoliosis pain is like for me – if you can relate, please let me know in the comments below. It’s good to talk and support each other 🙂
It’s more than just back pain.
What a lot of people don’t realise is, scoliosis affects the whole body.
The result of having a curved spine has an impact on EVERYTHING ELSE, not just the back. I don’t just get pain in one part of my back. My rib cage is twisted round, which can affect my breathing. Bras and tops don’t fit properly and I feel self conscious in skin tight tops or tops that show my back/shoulders. Scoliosis also affects the nerves so I often get random sharp nerve pains in various parts of my back. I also get numbness down my leg and tingling down my arms and in my hands.
Scoliosis causes muscle imbalances in the back, so mostly my scoliosis pain is caused by tight muscles down one side of my back (the “weaker” side). As a result, I get regular muscle spasms down one side of my back and around my shoulder blade where my back just feels tight. Since surgery, this is MUCH BETTER but I still get it, usually after doing some intense activity like running or if I’ve been walking round all day.
For me, this is the worse than the pain. My scoliosis makes it so hard to get comfortable EVER. Don’t get me wrong, it was worse before I had surgery as I had a large rib hump which meant I found it uncomfortable leaning against pretty much any chair.
After surgery, it’s different but it’s still hard to get comfortable. I still find it uncomfortable leaning against most chairs as I still have a slight unevenness to my ribs. I also have a protruding shoulder blade and screws that stick out of my back. All this makes it painful/uncomfortable to sit on most chairs without a cushion.
In addition to this, as my back is now fused “straight” I can’t mould my back to fit to any seat/chair. I sit poker straight which means it can be uncomfortable when I’m in a car or on public transport. I don’t mind this, I’d rather this than the alternative (have my scoliosis getting worse) but I can’t really remember a time that I was truly comfortable.
It can be frustrating
I try to be as active as possible, I think as a way of controlling my condition and managing the pain. But I find it frustrating sometimes that I can’t do as much as everyone else. I try my hardest to go to the classes I want to go to at the gym and and to go running. Sometimes though it can be hard to keep up and I get frustrated. I wish I could run as fast as everyone else without injuring myself or causing a new pain for example. Every time I think I’m getting somewhere with my fitness, my back is there to remind me to slow down. Whether it’s a new injury, numbness or back pain. When my back starts hurting though, I tend to push through and do as much as I can. I refuse to let scoliosis beat me.
The emotional pain can be far worse than the physical pain
Even though scoliosis is a physical condition, the emotional pain it causes can be far worse.
Being diagnosed with scoliosis at 14 and growing up with a physical deformity was tough. I was constantly paranoid that people would notice my rib hump so I would wear baggy clothes and avoid activities where my back would be on display, like swimming. At 14, I felt like a freak and would often cry in my room at night. The psychological impact of scoliosis is often overlooked. Without a doubt though, having scoliosis has crushed my self esteem and self confidence, which still impacts on me today.
It affects you 24/7
Having scoliosis is a huge part of my life. It will always be there. It can’t be cured, it’s a chronic condition. I don’t like to use the word disability because I don’t see it that way. But in a way, it is a hidden disability. To look at me, you wouldn’t know what I go through everyday. As soon as I get out of bed, I have pain and stiffness. I find it awkward to do basic tasks, like tying my shoelaces and putting my socks on or getting comfortable because my back is fused. I’m used to it now and I just get on with it, but it affects me every day.
How does living with scoliosis affect your everyday life? Please share in the comments below 🙂
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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.