What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a physical disorder where the spinal cord shows sideways curvature. The condition usually shows up when you are a child or teenager. The angle of the curve is small, moderate, or large. Doctors diagnose the condition when the rotation angle of your spine is anything that measures more than 10 degrees. Orthopedics use the letters “S” or “C” to describe the nature of the curve.

Plan Consultation

Scoliosis is a physical disorder where the spinal cord shows sideways curvature. The condition usually shows up when you are a child or teenager.

Primary Symptoms of Scoliosis: 

If you have the disorder, you will learn when you stand. There will be other symptoms like:

  • A visible curve on your back
  • Uneven shoulders
  • Uneven waists
  • One shoulder blade will visually appear more prominent than the other one. 
  • Projection of one side of the rib cage. 
  • Visible prominence on one side of the back when you bend forward. 
  • One hip is higher than the adjacent one.

In most cases, the spine will also twist or rotate along with the side curving. The rotation will make the muscles and ribs on one side of the body top stick out prominently than those on the other side. In addition, visible symptoms include:

  • Stiffness of spine
  • Lower back pain
  • Fatigue due to muscle strain
  • Pain and numbness in legs

Causes of Scoliosis:

Some types of scoliosis have specific causes. Doctors divide these curves into two primary categories- structural and non-structural. 

In non-structural conditions, the spine will normally work, although curvature is visible. It can happen owing to various reasons like

  • Muscular spasms
  • One leg longer than other
  • Inflammations like appendicitis

In structural disorder, the curvature is rigid and irreversible. The causes are:

  • Neuromuscular conditions like cerebral palsy. 
  • Acute muscular dystrophy, which is a genetic disorder resulting in muscular weakness. 
  • Spinal infection and injuries
  • congenital disabilities affecting the spinal bones of the infant, like spina bifida. 
  • Tumors
  • Genetic conditions like Down’s Syndrome or Marfan Syndrome.
  • Spinal cord abnormalities

When to See the Physiotherapist:

It is mandatory to go to the doctor, preferably an orthopedic, if you notice the signs of scoliosis in your child. Mild curves can gradually develop without your knowledge, as the gradual appearance does not cause any discomfort at the beginning. But as the child grows into the teens, there can be an onset of pain. You should not ignore if the kid complains of back pain or stiffness. 

Risks Factors for Scoliosis: 

There are myriad risk factors for developing the common types of scoliosis. These are: 

  • Age: Initial symptoms and signs of the condition begin in adolescence. 
  • Family history: The condition runs in the family. But many children suffering from the disorder do not have a family history of the condition. 
  • Sex: The rate of development of mild scoliosis is the same in boys and girls. However, females have a higher chance of worsening of the curvature that will demand active treatment.

How to Prevent Scoliosis: 

There is no proven fact about the ways to prevent the condition. However, you can follow a few precautionary steps to minimize the chances of developing the curvature by injury. 

  • If your kids are in school, you should not allow them to carry many heavy backpacks as it exerts undue pressure on the neck, back, and shoulders. If there is an undiagnosed mild disorder, the pressure can trigger the pain. 
  • Maintain proper posture while sitting or standing as this can prevent further rotation or curvature of the spine. 

Treatments for Scoliosis:

The treatment plan will depend on numerous factors like:

  • Degree of spinal curvature
  • Your age
  • Type of curvature
  • Type of scoliosis
  • The likelihood of further growth

Primary treatment options include bracing and surgery.

The brace can control the curvature at growing age when the rotation is more than 25 to 40 degrees. Early detection can prevent further curvature through the use of braces. If you wear the braces for a long period, it will control the deformation. There are two types of braces: 

  1. Underarm: close-fitting brace comprising of plastic and virtually invisible. It will help in the treatment of lower spine curves. 
  2. Milwaukee: the brace starts at the neck and covers your entire torso, excluding legs and arms. 

Surgery is the only treatment option for scoliosis where the curve is greater than 40 degrees. Spinal fusion is the standard way of surgery. The doctor will fuse the vertebrae together using rods, screws, and bone grafts in this surgery. The bone grafts consist of bone-like material or genuine bone. The rods will keep the spine straight, and the screws will hold the vertebrae in place.

Related Conditions: 

If the curvature is mild or moderate, it may not interfere with everyday activities and functions. But when the condition is severe, there can arise physical limitations. Constant pain will be your companion as the curvature can worsen with age. 

Living with scoliosis can be challenging. Mental stress often leads to depression when the increasing deformation begins to affect your mobility. It is better to seek out support groups who can help you manage the pain and live a better life. You get to meet with others experiencing similar or even worse symptoms. It will encourage you to deal with the condition on a daily basis.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the main cause of scoliosis?
There is no definite common cause for this condition. But it may involve hereditary factors because often, the condition runs in the family. However, neuromuscular conditions like muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy can cause the less common types of scoliosis.
2. How to treat scoliosis?
Doctors can suggest three treatment plans for the condition- bracing, observation, and surgery. Depending on the present severity of the spinal condition in your case and the physical maturity of the child, the doctor will recommend the most suitable method.
3. What will happen if you don’t treat scoliosis?
If you leave the condition untreated, it will worsen. There can be serious long-term mental and physical complications. Severe scoliosis involves curvature of the spinal column beyond 50 degrees. Such a situation will rotate the spine, exerting pressure on the lungs and heart.

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