Scoliosis is an abnormal condition that causes the spine to curve sideways. The unusual twisting and curvature are characterized by a change in the appearance of the back. Although it can affect any part of your spine, the chest and lower back are some of the most common regions. This condition often appears in children between the ages of 9 to 15 years. Some cases of scoliosis in children are mild while others can be disabling causing permanent spine deformities. It can cause difficulties in breathing because the spine curvature minimizes the amount of space in your chest cavity. This article looks into the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment of scoliosis.
Symptoms of Scoliosis
- Abnormal standing posture because of the change in the appearance of the back.
- One shoulder may stick out than the other due to uneven hips or shoulders.
- Different heights of rib cages.
- Uneven waist with one or both hips unusually high or raised.
- Changes in the texture and appearance of the skin overlying the spine. Color abnormalities, hairy patches, and dimples can also accompany it.
- Head slightly off center from the pelvis,
Causes of Scoliosis
- Neuromuscular Conditions
A problem may occur during formation of the spine. This usually happens when the bones of the spine do not separate from each other or fail to form completely. It usually develops in people with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, birth defects, or Marfan syndrome.
- Degenerative Issues
Older adults may develop scoliosis due to degenerative diseases such as arthritis that causes changes in the spine. Abnormal bone spurs combined with weakened ligaments and other soft tissues may cause an unusual curvature of the spine.
- Abnormal Leg Length
A person may develop scoliosis because of a problem that occurs somewhere else in the body. Some of the common causes of abnormal curvature of the spine are muscle spasms in the back, or having one shorter leg.
One may develop scoliosis due to bad posture, injuries, or specific genes. Some of the risk factors include gender, age, and genetics. Females tend to have a higher risk of scoliosis and the symptoms usually start before puberty during a growth spurt. According to various scientists, at least one gene is thought to cause scoliosis.
Diagnosis of Scoliosis
It is important to seek medical attention at an early stage if you see any visible signs of scoliosis. During diagnosis, a doctor will do a physical examination of your spine, shoulders, hips, and ribs. An orthopedic specialist will measure the degree of scoliosis using a scoliometer or an inclinometer. Imaging scans such as MRIs, CT Scans, and X-rays can be used to assess the angle, location, direction, and shape of the spinal curve.
How is Scoliosis Treated?
The treatment for scoliosis depends on several factors such as age, level of severity, and if the condition may worsen with time. Treatment is not always necessary in very young children because the spine curvature may naturally improve with age. Some of the treatment options for scoliosis include:
- Physical Therapy and Exercises
Adults who suffer from degenerative scoliosis may be required to go through physical therapy, and do exercises that keep their back moving. Activities that stretch and strengthen your back may help improve your spine curvature.
- Back Brace
A doctor may recommend your child to wear a back brace if the curve measures between 20 and 40 degrees. Not only does it support the back but also helps stop the progress of the spine curvature as the child grows. Braces are made using hard plastic and can be either elastic or rigid. The primary purpose of a back brace is to stop the curve’s progress but not to correct it. It helps control the curvature so that your child will not need surgery in the future.
Painkillers and other anti-inflammatories can help relieve the pain that comes with scoliosis. Doctors may prescribe a stronger medication for patients if the see little or no progress.
The primary aim of surgery in children is to diminish spinal deformity by stopping the progress of the curve during adulthood. Surgery is only recommended if the curve is over 40 degrees or continues to get worse. Adults who were treated earlier on may require revision of the surgery. For adults, surgery may be recommended if the curvature is more than 50 degrees. However, it is important to weigh carefully between the benefits of surgery and its risks.
It is important to address the problem as soon as you notice symptoms such as uneven shoulders and waist, and abnormal posture. You might also consider other treatment options such as electrical stimulation, nutritional supplements and chiropractic treatment to help with your scoliosis.