Scoliosis and Pregnancy

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June is national scoliosis awareness month. Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine that affects millions of people in the US alone. For some patients, scoliosis is a very mild condition causing almost no noticeable symptoms – people with mild scoliosis may not even know they have it. For others, moderate to severe scoliosis can cause physical deformities, pain along the neck back and hips, nerve conduction issues and more. These issues can make pregnancy a bit difficult for people with scoliosis.

To get a real feel for what pregnancy is like for people with moderate to severe scoliosis, we have asked a guest writer to share some thoughts with you.

“Hi everyone! Firstly, I wanted to thank you all for taking the time to read this. I didn’t find out that I had scoliosis until I was twenty-five. However, I have had signs that something was wrong for as long as I can remember.

As a young child I clearly remember having back and hip pain. When I was seven I started to suffer what I could only explain to my mother as “butt cramps”, where the muscle of the left glute would clench and spasm uncontrollably and very, very painfully. We went to see several doctors and was told by all of them that there was nothing wrong with me aside from the fact that I was overweight. I went through school scoliosis tests in gym class yearly and passed each time.

When puberty began to set in, the pain got much worse and new symptoms began to show themselves. My hips and breasts were developing very unevenly – the right side of my body was much larger and curvier than the left.  Again, doctors were quick to dismiss my complaints as being a weight problem.

As an older teen, I started trying to work out to lose weight. I quickly found out that I couldn’t do what other teens could do – not because I got winded, but because my hips and lower back would lock up on me and leave me unable to move without pain so intense that it would make me cry. Occasionally my left leg would “get stuck” in the middle of doing something and I would need help to walk for the remainder of the day.

Then came the day of my car accident. The other driver struck the passengers side of my car going approximately 65 mph. At the hospital, I was given a full body scan and told that I had, amazingly, escaped any major injury and just had some bruised muscles in my shoulder but that the impact would likely mean my scoliosis was going to worsen for a while. This was the first time anyone had told me I had scoliosis. The doctors in the emergency room were shocked by that since, according to them, it was a very pronounced case of scoliosis.

I was told pretty shortly thereafter that pregnancy would be a terrible idea for me, but I found myself unexpectedly pregnant in short order. The first trimester was fine as far as pain levels went. The morning sickness was severe, but my back and hips were fine.

The second trimester is when things started to get hard. My hips started to feel wobbly and my back started to hurt more. Towards the end of my second trimester, my Ob/GYN suggested that I begin seeing a chiropractor to help manage the pain and to maintain some flexibility.

Laboring with scoliosis required a bit of prep-work and a lot of communication. Laying on my back was essentially impossible and nurses kept trying to make me do so. After explaining the situation, things went much more smoothly. I brought along my x-rays to help with placement of the epidural, but the anesthesiologist was able to properly place it without them. Interestingly, the way my spine in particular curved prevented the epidural from numbing both halves of my body and so extra pain medication needed to be used once it was decided that a c section would be best (the baby got wedged because of the tilt of my hips).

My second pregnancy went much more smoothly, as did my second delivery. If I could give any advice to women with scoliosis who are pregnant, it would be to never underestimate the importance of communication. Speak up! Everyones scoliosis is different and everyones pregnancy is different.”

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