hip doctor
August 5, 2011 11:47 AM   Subscribe

I've had minor scoliosis (crooked spine) all my life, which has caused constant hip/back issues. My weight and posture haven't helped, but for the past few months I've been working on that. Are there some good materials online I can look at to research my condition? What sort of doctor would I talk to this about? What's the best strategy to getting good results from our obtuse medical system? (USA)
posted by parallax7d to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I have severe scoliosis. I'd recommend seeing an orthopedist about your hip and back pain. Orthos usually specialize in one or the other, so you may end up having to see two. Last time I went in for hip pain, they did a bone scan to make sure there was nothing structural going on (like spurs) and since there wasn't, I got sent to physical therapy. That helped A LOT.

What's the best strategy to getting good results from our obtuse medical system?

Good insurance and persistence. Lots and lots of persistence. I got in to see one of the best spine doctors in my state, but only after I called a half dozen times and cried on the phone to his nurse.
posted by desjardins at 11:58 AM on August 5, 2011

For online research, MedLine Plus might be a useful place to begin. It's the National Library of Medicine, and it lists a lot of information with links so you can follow many information pathways from general information, to symptoms, to current clinical trials, to drugs, etc. None of it is marketing hype.
posted by effluvia at 12:02 PM on August 5, 2011

I have mild scoliosis, and yoga has really helped for the back pain, so I would recommend exploring that as a complement to Western medicine.
posted by yarly at 12:10 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have pretty severe scoliosis and have had surgery for it. It certainly would be worth seeing an orthopedist who specializes in scoliosis. Do some research on the internet to find a specialist near you. One thing to keep in mind though, scoliosis doesn't usually cause pain unless it's pretty serious. So your hip and back pain may just be chronic or they may be caused by something else. Physical therapy could probably help you either way as could an exercise plan. But I'm not a doctor and I'm just telling you what I've been told through out the years. I do my best to stay in shape and maintain a healthy weight. Everything helps. I wouldn't be too worried though. Minor scoliosis is fairly harmless. But have it checked it and see what the doctor says.
posted by ljs30 at 12:41 PM on August 5, 2011

posted by radioamy at 1:11 PM on August 5, 2011

My osteopath has helped with my (mild scoliosis) back pain, and both my osteopath and physical therapist (at different points in my life) were able to give me useful exercises to get my spine straight again. I think seeing either would help immensely.

In the meantime, having a good backpack and always using it (or a rolling bag if really heavy) helps keep your spine straight to begin with. The weirdest my spine got was when I was carrying a bag on one shoulder for a few months. (Even if I carry a purse, I try to switch which shoulder it's on every few blocks, so that it keeps my spine in balance.) And yes, exercise sure helps (but a physical therapist can give you really specific exercises to work exactly what needs strengthening). Hope you feel better soon!
posted by Margalo Epps at 5:46 PM on August 5, 2011

Get thee to an orthopedist, either direct or through a physician's referral. I was diagnosed in childhood and wore a Boston (corset) brace through most of my adolescence to prevent the curve from getting any worse while I was still growing.

There are a lot of options for complementary treatments, so of which could be physical therapy for working on the issues causing the curve and resulting issues/pain. I was already a swimmer before being diagnosed, so I swam a lot for fun and on the swim team as my physical therapy. Yoga and Pilates are also great complementary treatment, especially for working on the abdominal core (having that area strong will help your back). Besides the core, I also try to work on strengthening the areas that are stressed because of the unequal weight distribution caused by the condition (my curve is caused by one leg being longer, so the older I get the more my hip flexors get jacked). Finally, I go to acupuncture about once a month and if nothing else the sessions are as good as getting a massage from relieving tension out of my back.

My biggest peeve about having Scoliosis is the # of well meaning, but not terribly well informed people who've told me over the years that it can be "cured" if only I did X treatment. They're sort of like the crazy autism people who keep insisting that vaccines are responsible. Most of it is harmless. But I did walk out on a yoga class after the instructor went off on a diatribe about how if parents had taken me to the chiropractor for treatments as a toddler, I would have never developed scoliosis. I think my head would have exploded from the # of wrong things in that statement and an exploding head is definitely not good for the back.

Oh and other peeve, that Judy Blume book where the girl has to wear a brace but is still popular and dates the cutest guy in her school? Total fantasy - there's no bigger way to not get dates as a teenager than to be stuck wearing a brace.
posted by gov_moonbeam at 10:46 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

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