Q. Is scoliosis a life-threatening one?

Answered by
Dr. Sumit Chawla
and medically reviewed by Dr. Sneha Kannan
This is a premium question & answer published on Jan 09, 2016 and last reviewed on: Mar 23, 2019

Hi doctor,

For the past four months, I am suffering from neck stiffness especially when turning to the left. Also, I am suffering from heaviness of head, trembling of the head in certain neck position and shortness of breath, especially on moving to the chest level. When I wake up in the morning after sound sleep of 6 hours I do not feel bad. But, as the day progresses my problem gets increased. In the office, I have to work for 8 hours and my commuting time is 3 hours. So the problem increases while in office and when I travel by car where I have to sit for a long time. Also, it is not possible for me to quit my job.

My echocardiogram and brain MRI are normal. My cervical spine MRI shows mild scoliosis with convexity to right, a small central posterior disc bulge at C5/C6 level indenting the thecal sac. There is no cord compression or central canal stenosis. Is my problem life threatening? Can the above problems be cured through exercise? Can I lead a normal life?



Welcome to

As you have very well explained your symptoms, I am so thankful to you. I would have appreciated if MRl image too available.

Scoliosis can give rise to spasm of paraspinal muscles of the affected area, and in your case neck, this explains your neck stiffness. Does trembling of head on bending correspond with your pulse? If yes, then it is a normal phenomenon. If no, then during pain and stiffness there is reduced strength of muscles which sometimes leading to trembling.

Your condition improves with rest and worsens with exertion, clearly implying mechanical cause to your symptoms. Shortness of breath on bending neck forward is not a routine orthopedic symptom. Do you have any swelling in the neck? Do you have any cardiac or heart condition or chest disease?

Your condition is not life-threatening You need a course of muscle relaxant with painkillers. Take rest for some time along with physiotherapy and once the pain subsides, start with isometric cervical exercises to strengthen neck muscles.

Change your postural habit of sitting while at work and while relaxing. These changes in your lifestyle will help you immensely. The degree of scoliosis, its progression, pressure on cord or nerve roots and the current level of your symptoms will define the need for surgery.

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