What is going on with my posture?!
July 30, 2011 12:52 PM   Subscribe

I've noticed that my pelvis/lower back appears to have a fairly significant tilt to one side. How can I get this diagnosed as to whether it is just a muscular problem, leg length problem, spine problem, skeletal problem or something else entirely?

I don't feel as if I'm leaning to one side but I clearly am.

I haven't connected any particular pain or discomfort to this but it sure doesn't look good, could this become a problem in the future?

I'm slightly wary of chiropractors and I feel my doctor would just send my on my way and tell me to stop being silly.

What kind of private practitioner would analyse this scientifically and point me towards a solution (if there is one).

I just want to stand straight!
posted by fernbritton to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've had good success with an osteopath diagnosing all of the twists and turns of my body, though I haven't been convinced that osteopathic treatment really solved my issues. For me, physical therapy was the best solution. So, perhaps an osteopath could tell you what exactly is going on and then you could see a relevant specialist to retrain muscles/get wedges for your shoes/whatever.

If you're in the UK, I would suggest you reconsider going to your GP, though, as a first point of contact on the off chance that he or she might be more sympathetic than you might think and you might get the NHS to pay for some of the treatment.
posted by brambory at 1:08 PM on July 30, 2011

In your picture, your left knee looks lower than your right. That would obviously tilt your body. Having legs of different lengths is not uncommon. The resolution might be as simple as a lift in your left shoe. A doctor should be able to make measurements to check symmetry.
posted by Cranberry at 1:19 PM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

Orthopedist, with x-rays
posted by radioamy at 2:03 PM on July 30, 2011

Many people have one leg a bit longer than the other. Buy a couple of insoles for your shoes and experiment.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:12 PM on July 30, 2011

Inhave scoliosis, and was diagnosed by an orthopedist and trated with physical therapy. Mine has a very noticeable tilt when my back muscles are tight so the therapy included massage, stretches, and strengthening exercises. I've also gone to a chiropractor (many years after diagnosis) and he confirmed that the curve was still there and I also had a tilt, where my whole spine seemed to be leaning to one side like the Tower of Pisa (not that bad though!). He treated me, which helped the muscle tension and made me feel better but I don't know if the tilt is still there. I think I'm just built crooked.

I'd start with an orthopedist first. They can diagnose and prescribe treatment.
posted by MultiFaceted at 2:15 PM on July 30, 2011

FWIW, do you carry a messenger bag or backpack on just one shoulder? Even without some existing condition, habits like that can take their toll over time, especially if you're not doing stretching/strengthening exercises (planking, etc.) on a regular basis. Good news: assuming there's nothing deeper amiss, changes like these can make some difference both appearance-wise and in how you feel.
posted by 5Q7 at 3:16 PM on July 30, 2011

I have the same thing. There are lots of muscular problems that cause tilting like that, so I had lots of wrong diagnoses (x syndrome, x muscle spasm, etc.) before they found out that my spine was actually twisted at the base and that caused my hips/pelvis to be tilted.

That took a chiropractor to diagnose accurately. If you can find a good one, try that. GPs are a good first line, but often lousy at knowing how to treat.
posted by guster4lovers at 4:13 PM on July 30, 2011

an orthopedist can diagnose it. the question is whether it's causing you discomfort or embarrassment.

it could cause pain later in life, of course. or it could not. people walk around their entire lives with herniated discs and never know it.

since you're not having pain, it's probably not worth going down the medical rabbit hole--seriously, you could spend thousands of dollars fixing something that could never become a problem.

so focus on prevention: if you carry a bag, switch shoulders, and work on improving your core strength and flexibility. don't cross your legs when you sit, don't sit on your wallet, and pay attention to whether you lean at your desk at work (toward your mouse or your phone) or in your car (elbow on the window or armrest). if you do, stop.

if it really bothers you, see if you can find a local practitioner of the alexander technique.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:30 PM on July 30, 2011

My go to suggestion is to treat yourself with myofascial trigger point therapy which works on muscles. There may not be another problem, or if there is trigger point therapy can deal with the knock on effects of trigger points created by an imbalance, which might be causing the curve.
posted by Not Supplied at 4:43 PM on July 30, 2011

There are structural problems that can cause stuff like that (scoliosis et al). If it's a brand-new thing you just discovered, though, I'd suspect muscular problems before I'd suspect the bones. Tight pelvic and back muscles can pull your body out of wack -- even pulling your legs up and down so they appear to be different lengths. (I have this problem myself -- my psoas muscles will spasm and pull one hip up.)

An osteopath might help, as could a sports masseuse or a physical therapist. You might also try yoga or pilates -- stretching those core muscles could help.
posted by hungrytiger at 3:00 AM on July 31, 2011

Physiotherapy or physical therapy. My back muscles were so tight for so long that I (and a bunch of doctors) assumed it was to do with a knee issue I have. I ended up seeing the physio after having my daughter because my pelvis was still hurting and had a small gap. It turns out the back muscles were so tight they were rotating and twisting my pelvis apart, assisted by the pregnancy. Ten months of physio and I can hop, balance, run and be without pain for a long time. If I keep up with my exercises and stretches, I have no pain whatsoever. And that was just muscular, but it was beginning to affect the structural elements of my pelvis.
posted by geek anachronism at 3:13 AM on July 31, 2011

Response by poster: Went to a chiropractor and got an x-ray, it's well wonky in there!: http://i.imgur.com/0bfwp.jpg
posted by fernbritton at 3:33 PM on August 3, 2011

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