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Can Scoliosis Cause Knee Pain?

Scoliosis can cause many different issues, from lack of mobility to back pain. However, one of the lesser-known side effects of scoliosis is knee pain. While it’s not as commonly discussed, adults with scoliosis can experience pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility in the knee.

There are multiple reasons scoliosis can cause knee pain, so it’s essential to understand the connections between these two conditions.

That being said, the following is a deep dive into how scoliosis can cause knee pain and what treatment options are available.

The Relationship Between Scoliosis And Knee Pain

If you’ve been diagnosed with scoliosis and begin to experience knee pain that isn’t the result of trauma or injury, it may be due to your scoliosis. Scoliosis is a condition that affects the spine, causing it to curve sideways and rotate abnormally.

This can lead to an imbalance in how the body moves, affecting the back, pelvis, and other joints. Specifically, scoliosis can change the alignment of the hips and legs, which can put excess pressure on the knees and cause pain.

Additionally, the nerves in your knees connect to the spine via the sciatic nerve, which is the long nerve that extends from your lower back to your toes. If the sciatic nerve is irritated or compressed, it can affect any part of the lower body, including the knees. As a result, any strain or pressure on the spine due to scoliosis can result in knee pain.

Where In The Knee Does It Hurt?

You may experience pain in any part of your knee. However, knee pain caused by scoliosis tends to be more concentrated in the following areas:

  • Behind The Knees: Pain behind the knees is a common place for those with scoliosis to experience knee pain. This may include a dull ache or a sharp and burning pain that is often aggravated by movement.
  • Throughout The Legs: Pain in your lower back or spine can travel down to your legs and feet via the sciatic nerve. If you’re experiencing a dull ache or tingling sensation in your legs, it may be due to pressure on the sciatic nerve.

How Do You Know Your Scoliosis Is Causing Your Knee Pain?

Countless factors contribute to knee pain. Injuries, such as ligament tears or fractures, and certain conditions, such as arthritis and gout, can all be responsible for knee pain. The most effective way to determine if your scoliosis is causing your knee pain is to visit a scoliosis specialist.

However, if you are experiencing knee pain, there are a few symptoms you may be having in conjunction with your knee pain that may indicate that scoliosis is the cause. These symptoms can include:

  • Back Pain: Because your knees and your back are connected by both nerves and muscles that run between the spine and the legs, any pressure or strain on the spine can cause knee pain. For example, a bulging lumbar disc or a pinched nerve in the spine (both of which can be caused by scoliosis) can cause pain in or behind the knees.
  • Tight Hamstrings: The hamstrings are a group of muscles that connect between the pelvis and knee. If you have scoliosis, tight hamstrings can be caused by irritation or damage to the nerve that travels from the lumbar spine to the hamstring muscles.
    If this is the case, the hamstrings can become inflamed (causing tightness) and cause pain around the knee.
  • Weak Hips Or Quads: The quadriceps, or “quads”, are a group of muscles at the front of your thigh that allows you to extend your knees and move your hips. The nerves that control the quads are located between the vertebrae of your lumbar spine.
    This means if the nerves are pinched between the vertebrae, it can cause weakness in both your hips and quads. If such weakness exists, it can result in compression of the kneecap, leading to knee pain.
  • Bunions On The Feet: Bunions are bony bumps that can develop on the big toe side of the foot. Bunions form when the bones in your feet move out of place due to uneven weight distribution, and can be a sign of scoliosis. There are spinal nerves that travel to the muscles that help stabilize your feet.
    If the nerves are damaged or strained due to scoliosis, those muscles will weaken. As a result, your arches will flatten out, and your feet will roll to the inside. This happens to better support your weight using the inner edge of your feet, thereby leading to bunions. If your gait has changed, it will put extra stress on your knees, causing knee pain.

Possible Causes Of Knee Pain With Scoliosis

If you have knee pain that is caused by your scoliosis, the following conditions may be the cause:

Sciatica And Radiculopathy

Radiculopathy is the term for a range of symptoms caused by an irritated or pinched nerve root, including pain that travels down the leg. It can be caused by a bulging disc due to scoliosis or other conditions that lead to nerve root compression. Sciatica is a type of radiculopathy which is caused by compression of the sciatic nerve.

Any type of nerve compression, including when caused by abnormal spinal curvature, can lead to pain and numbness in your lower back, legs, and feet. Since the sciatic nerve runs down behind the thigh and knee, compression of this nerve can cause knee pain.

Misaligned Or Uneven Leg Length

Scoliosis can cause your legs to become misaligned or uneven. This can happen due to the curvature in your spine which shifts the alignment of your body, causing one leg to become longer or shorter than the other.

If your legs are misaligned, one leg might carry more weight than the other, leading to muscle strain and fatigue. This can cause knee pain as your joints work harder to compensate for the uneven load.

Treatment Options If You Have Knee Pain With Scoliosis

If you were diagnosed with scoliosis and are experiencing knee pain, there are a few treatments that can help manage your symptoms, including postural correction and physical therapy.

Postural correction involves adjusting your posture to take pressure off your knees and back. Physical therapy can help strengthen the muscles in your lower body and increase your range of motion, which can help alleviate knee pain.

Additionally, some forms of therapy can be used to treat underlying conditions such as sciatica and radiculopathy. For example, spinal manipulation and chiropractic treatments can help relieve pressure on the nerves.

Don’t Let Knee Pain Get In The Way

If you’ve been diagnosed with scoliosis and are experiencing knee pain, we can help. At Square ONE Health, we can design a custom treatment plan for you based on your specific needs.

We use several highly regarded, science-based approaches to treat all aspects of scoliosis, including the Schroth Method, the Scientific Exercise Approach to Scoliosis (SEAS), and Chiropractic Biophysics (CBP).

These treatment plans include postural correction, scoliosis-based exercises, stretches, and physical therapy to help relieve and eliminate your scoliosis symptoms, including knee pain.

Are you unsure about what’s causing the pain in your knees? Don’t allow it to hinder you from living your best life. Get a specialized treatment plan from Square ONE Health today!

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