The 5 Types Of Pain Part 5 – Deformity Pain

You were born with a bad scoliosis, and it’s only got worse over time. You can just about pass for ‘normal’ with the right clothes on. But as soon as you are even partially uncovered it’s very obvious that you have a severe spinal curvature. You have always felt deeply self conscious of your scoliosis, and you’ve only worn a swimsuit in public a handful of times in your life.

On your x rays there are several fused and deformed vertebrae that you were ‘just born with’ according to your childhood doctors.

As far as pain goes you have always had quite a lot of it. Most of which is little more than a mild annoyance, because you are used to it. You get daily back pain and sometimes your left knee hurts –  which you have always assumed was because you are permanently ‘out of whack’. Sometimes you do get a flare up of hip pain where you have to see your osteopath every week until it settles.

Many conditions that involve deformity of the spine and joints understandably come with a higher lifetime risk of stubborn pain. Significant deformities in your joints or skeleton create unnatural stress on your soft tissues; either by direct compression or through unnatural movement patterns.

Deformity and deformity pain used to be a lot more common than they are these days. Only a few hundred years ago it was very common to see people with skeletal deformities. With improvements in public health it is now far less common. A percentage of people with physical disabilities do still suffer with deformity related pain however.

In terms of treatment for deformity related pain there are is a wide spectrum of possibilities just as there are for any of the other types of pain.

Over the past couple of centuries surgeons have gradually developed many procedures that can assist with deformity pain treatment. Most of these procedures are designed to reduce the degree of deformity – and bring the body closer to postural and structural norms.

Surgery as a treatment for deformity pain has been somewhat of a mixed back. Many of the earlier experimentations with this type of work are not something anyone would want to have been a part of. Taking large saws and drills to the human skeleton is about as far from a walk in the park as the human life experience allows for.

The flip side of messy surgical experimentation is medical progress. Many modern procedures for the reduction of deformity and the treatment of its associated pains are nothing short of miraculous. While bone and joint surgery should always be viewed with caution – it deserves our respect.

Long before orthopaedic surgeons were surgeons they were orthopaedists – this meant not performing surgery – but instead using straps, braces, belts and the like. They used these types of equipment to make adjustments to alignment and provide support as a means of pain treatment for patients with deformity issues.

The modern orthotic market is alive and well to this day. There are many different ‘medical devices’ that are available to those who have deformity pain. In a percentage of cases these are absolutely essential support for the quality of life of the individual.

Other types of treatment for deformity pain are basically the same in many ways to what we do at Featherston Street Pain Clinic in lil old Wellington. Folks with skeletal and joint deformities on their health resume are often every bit as responsive to regular treatment methods as the rest of us. Joint mobilisation, acupuncture, cupping, traction, rehab exercises, deep tissue release and the like prove valuable in many instances.


Tobias Hall DC BSc. Hons IIst Nat. Dip. NZCA
Featherston St. Pain Clinic
Level 3 – 23 Waring Taylor St.
Wellington CBD
Tel. 06 3856446 / 0275088083
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