Scoliosis…How Does it Cause Neck or Shoulder Pain?

Scoliosis…How Does it Cause Neck or Shoulder Pain?

A hallmark of scoliosis is an S-curve in the spine resulting in one side of the pelvis resting higher than the other and the opposite side rib cage resting lower than the other. I call this a Complex Sidebending Problem in my back pain book.

There are two ways this would affect neck or shoulder pain or headaches for that matter:

1.Typically the rib cage that is resting lower develops a slight rib protrusion. The shoulder blade rests on the rib cage. That protrusion ends up being like a speed bump that the shoulder blade needs to negotiate. Most people work around this by squeezing the shoulder blade close to their spine.

  1. Because the shoulder blade basically rests on the rib cage, if that side of the rib cage is lower, then the shoulder blade is lower too.

Both situations alter the mechanics of the shoulder blade creating shoulder pain but less obviously creating neck pain and headaches due to the attachments of the shoulder blade to the neck and head. It’s more common than you might imagine.

This can be solved, even without solving the scoliosis, by learning to stretch the muscles pulling the rib cage down. Believe it or not, most people can change their scoliosis, whether it is congenital or functional scoliosis. At the very least, they have a good shot at changing their pain associated with scoliosis, if not the scoliosis itself.

The solutions are too broad for this little blog post but if you have shoulder, neck or headache pain and scoliosis, please try my Heal Your Headaches program—I really think it will solve it for you.

If you’d like to go deeper and change the forces contributing to your scoliosis, please try my Back & Sciatic Pain program too.

Good luck!

Rick Olderman is a sports and orthopedic physical therapist, personal trainer, Pilates instructor, and speaker living in Denver, CO. He has been practicing physical therapy since 1996.

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