Patients Ask: Can You Develop Scoliosis From Bad Posture?

A businessman in a white dress shirt sits at his desk and works on his computer while hunched over, holding his back in pain.

At some point in our lives, many of us have likely been scolded for slouching because slouching can cause bad posture (this is true!). Good posture is extremely important to your spine’s curvature and spinal health, especially as you get older. Poor posture can cause a range of issues, including pain, headaches, acid reflux, and spinal misalignments. However, can you develop scoliosis from bad posture? 

Below, we explain the health ramifications of poor posture, its relationship with scoliosis, and what you can do to fix it.

Can You Develop Scoliosis From Bad Posture?

Scoliosis is a developmental disorder that can bring about various issues with spinal health later in life. The most common type of scoliosis is adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, a condition that occurs in juveniles between seven to nine years of age and develops gradually as the spine grows into maturity.

So, what is the relationship between scoliosis and bad posture, and can you develop structural scoliosis from bad posture? The short answer is yes, in later life with unchecked poor posture. There is currently no known definitive link between poor posture developing into structural scoliosis in young to middle-aged people.

However, scoliosis is a rather complex condition, and its causation is not fully understood. This difficulty in understanding is exacerbated by the fact that multiple types of scoliosis can develop in different ways. We do know that poor posture can cause a host of other spinal health-related complications that are similar to those of scoliosis. 

Some of the more common symptoms of poor posture are:

  • Back pain
  • Hip pain
  • Shoulder issues
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Reduced lung capacity
  • Neurological issues such as tingling and numbness in the extremities 
  • Protracted shoulders (pushed forward or backward)
  • Muscle fatigue 
  • Joint degeneration

While not a direct cause of scoliosis, poor posture can often be a sign of spinal misalignments, a condition wherein parts of the spine are out of their natural position. This can lead to the development of a specific type of degenerative scoliosis if left untreated for long periods.

Nearly 30% of all diagnosed cases of scoliosis are referred to as adult-onset scoliosis (ADS). ADS is extremely common and typically begins to manifest in people over the age of 50. It occurs when spinal irregularities form over time from a variety of causes such as daily wear and tear, repetitive injuries, and falls. ADS can be extremely detrimental to a person’s quality of life.

The development of ADS can be compounded by spinal misalignments because of the way spinal misalignments affect the spine and the muscles that hold it together. Over time, the uneven pressure placed on the joints, discs, and vertebrae of the spine can lead to the degeneration of its shape. This degeneration can be made worse as the muscles develop to hold the irregular position of the spine.

Even though poor posture may not cause scoliosis, it may put unnecessary pressure on the muscles and ligaments in your back as well as the discs and joints of the spine, accelerate its degeneration, and could increase the risk of developing ADS.

Needless to say, posture has a huge impact on your spinal health, especially as you get older. Making sure that you have good posture is one of the best ways that you can keep your spine healthier for longer and enjoy a fuller life.

What Can I Do About Bad Posture?

Luckily, there are many effective ways of not only managing the acute symptoms of poor posture but also providing long-term relief and improving your posture and spinal health.

Acute symptoms such as back and hip pain can be treated by:

  • Alternating your position when sitting, standing, or lying down
  • Applying heat to the area to reduce inflammation
  • Resting the areas experiencing pain
  • Taking over-the-counter medications such as anti-inflammatories and acetaminophen
  • Getting massage therapy

You can also engage in various exercises that can stretch, relax, and strengthen the muscles in the back and improve your core, such as:

  • Planks
  • Side planks
  • Leg lifts
  • Back extensions (such as “Supermans”)
  • Bridges
  • Hip flexor stretches

There are also lifestyle modifications that you can practice to help develop better habits for your spinal health.

  • Be mindful of posture during daily activities.
  • Enhance your work and leisure environments with things like ergonomic chairs, standing desks, and monitor stands
  • Stay active and exercise regularly
  • Take brief walks during long periods of sitting 

Training yourself to have better posture can be a difficult task. While there are at-home posture correction devices available for purchase such as posture braces and posture monitors, these often offer limited results. For example, the typical braces found on the market merely pull the shoulders back. This can help if your shoulders are protracted but will do nothing for your mid-back, low back, or neck. Posture monitors can be effective if you remain dedicated; however, many people simply find the constant buzzes from them irritating and often discard them into a drawer.

While things like stretches and massages can help alleviate acute pain, if you’re experiencing chronic symptoms of pain from poor posture, it could be a sign of an underlying issue. 

Due to how ADS develops and rapidly progresses when left untreated, it’s important to catch it early. It may be time to consider chiropractic care from an expert to help heal your pain while preventing symptoms or complications from arising or worsening. 

On top of relief from muscle pain, with postural improvements, you could also see relief from headaches, improved breathing, improved cognitive function, and enhanced energy levels.

Chiropractic BioPhysics® Helps Naturally Fix Your Posture

The team at PostureWorks understands that every person’s spine is unique; this is why we use Chiropractic BioPhysics® (CBP) to properly assess your spinal health. CBP begins with a full health analysis that involves x-rays and an evaluation of your medical history to analyze your posture. 

This allows us to identify any underlying bends or twists that, if left untreated, could potentially develop into ADS. We then develop a fully-customized, non-invasive treatment plan incorporating a combination of postural exercises, neuromuscular education, spinal traction, and chiropractic adjustments to help return your spine to its natural curvature and offer long-term postural improvements.

For more answers to questions like “Can you develop scoliosis from bad posture?” or to schedule your appointment with PostureWorks, contact us today.

Chiropractic BioPhysics®, or CBP, is a deeply researched and results-oriented corrective care technique. CBP-trained chiropractors aim to realign the spine back to health and optimal function. As with all chiropractic care, CBP is conservative, painless, and non-invasive.

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