With increasing age, our body becomes prone to various diseases and disabilities. One of the most common disorders in the human body occurs in the skeletal system. The human body consists of vertebrae that help in providing support and stability to our body and protecting the spinal cord.
What is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is an abnormal “S” or “C” curvature of the spine. The sideways curvature can occur in any region of the spine, either in the upper or lower back area. Scoliosis occurs mostly during growth spurts in children of 10-12 years of age (before puberty ), and is more common in girls than boys but can occur in adults too.
What are the types of Scoliosis?
According to the AANS (American Association Of Neurological Surgeons), around 80% of the total population has no significant cause of scoliosis.
● Idiopathic scoliosis: This means that there is no identifiable cause . It can be classified further into sub- categories;
➔ Infantile: 0-3 years of age
➔ Juvenile: 4-10 years of age
➔ Adolescent ( Most Common forms of Scoliosis): 11- 18 years of age
➔ Adults: 18 years or above
● Congenital (caused at birth)
● Neuromuscular (associated with muscular or nervous system deformity)
● Degenerative: It is age-related and usually develops scoliosis in the lower back. The disk and spinal joints start to wear out.
What are the causes of Scoliosis?
The sole cause of Scoliosis is still not known. However, there are associated a factors with the development of Scoliosis in an individual:
● Hereditary: Positive family history for Scoliosis
● Any birth or congenital defects during the developmental stages of the skeletal system
● Any injuries at birth
● Cerebral palsy
● Muscular Dystrophy: a group of disorders leading to muscular weakness
● Spinal injuries
What are some common myths about Scoliosis?
Common myths include:
● An individual with Scoliosis should not engage themselves in sports: Idiopathic Scoliosis is one of the most common causes for Scoliosis and mostly occurs in children when they are about to hit their teenage years, which is the best time to get engaged in sports. Playing sports won’t harm or worsen the condition. Choosing a sport that provides flexibility and strength helps to improve your condition.
● People with Scoliosis avoid swimming : Swimming requires a lot of strength. Water can provide support and stability, and help in maintaining a good posture.
● Scoliosis is only a childhood disease: It was earlier believed that when an individual stops growing, the disease progression also stops. It is not true, as the condition varies from person to person and the type of Scoliosis. It can still progress when an individual stops growing.
● Sitting with poor posture causes Scoliosis: One of the most common myths that many parents tell their kids. Sitting in a slumped posture is not associated with Scoliosis,. Sitting-up straight is helpful but the complete cure of Scoliosis requires proper medical treatment and therapies.
● Spinal braces don’t treat Scoliosis: According to research, scientists have been working on the treatment of Scoliosis with Spinal braces for more than 20 years now. It is found that early management of Scoliosis with spinal braces has shown improvements of 70-80% alone compared to those who didn’t use it.
What are the common symptoms of Scoliosis?
Most cases of Scoliosis may have few or mild symptoms. Scoliosis can get worse with time, allowing your spine to even rotate or twist . This results in ribs on one side of the body to stick out farther than on the other side. Other symptoms of Scoliosis are:
● Uneven shoulders
● Prominent uneven shoulder blade on either side
● Backache or low-back pain
● Uneven hips or prominent hips on one side
● Increased arm-hip ratio
● One leg appears shorter than the other
● The body tilts to a single side
What are the complications of Scoliosis?
Complications of Scoliosis are mentioned below:
● Difficulty breathing
● Severe low back pain
● Infections after surgery
● Leakage of spinal fluid
● Nerve damage
● Psychosocial issues
What are the risk factors for Scoliosis?
The risk factors for Scoliosis are mentioned below:
● Age: The symptoms of Scoliosis mostly appear during the growth spurts (before or just after puberty.
● Sex: According to research, it is believed that females are more prone to Scoliosis than men.
● Positive family history for Scoliosis.
When to see your Doctor/Physician for Scoliosis?
You should schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as you observe these signs and symptoms :
● Difficulty breathing
● Unable to walk properly (limping)
● Severe back pain which is getting worse with time
● Sideway tilting of the body
● Uneven or prominent shoulders
Your doctor will elicit a complete history, physical examination, and imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis. Your doctor will thoroughly examine the back to look for degrees of curvatures, the symmetry of the hips and shoulders. Imaging tests include:
● X-ray Spine: X-ray of your spine will be taken, which allows your doctor to visualize the extent of curves and even compressions
● MRI Scan: Radio-Magnetic waves are passed to your spine and are then visualized in a film
● CT – Scan: A 3D scan of your body is taken to identify the condition
● Bone Scan: A radioactive dye is injected into the blood and then scanned to look for spinal abnormalities.
What are the preventive methods for Scoliosis?
What are the treatment options available to cure Scoliosis?
The treatment plans for Scoliosis depends on various factors such as age and degree/type of curvature. Once confirmed, your doctor will try to suppress the disease progression using non-surgical methods and will suggest surgery if all measures fail.
● Spinal Braces: According to AANS, treatment for Scoliosis will require spinal braces if your child is still their growing age or when the degree of curvature of the spine is more than 25- 40 degrees. The most commonly used braces are underarm and Milwaukee
A surgical procedure is only done in patients with curves of more than 40 degrees. However, consult your doctor for a surgical approach if the disease is affecting your day-to-day activities, causing severe back pain, shortness of breath, etc. The operative procedure for Scoliosis is called Spinal Fusion, where the spinal bones are fused using bone grafts, rods, screws/plates, etc.
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Initially, the condition may progress in your child with no signs and symptoms, and later worsens . Get yourself a complete check-up from a professional healthcare provider if you notice difficulty walking, uneven shoulders, or hip. It is advised to do regular stretching exercises and wear spinal braces as it helps to reduce symptoms to an extent.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can Scoliosis be completely cured?
Ans. There is no complete cure for Scoliosis. However, the symptoms can be improved by applying braces, exercise, medications, Physiotherapy, and surgical procedures.
2. Does Scoliosis get worse with age?
Ans. The condition and presentation depend on the type of Scoliosis. Mild Idiopathic Scoliosis doesn’t progress with increasing age. However, people with curvatures of more than 50 degrees are believed to have worsening symptoms with an increase of 1-2 degrees of curvature each year.
3. How does the Scoliosis pain feel?
Ans. The initial symptoms for Scoliosis may present with mild pain over the lower back region. With increasing age and time, the pain becomes severe and is often associated with backbone damage. As the condition worsens, the nerve compression will lead to radiating pain, weakness, numbness, etc.
4. Is Scoliosis considered a disability?
Ans. Scoliosis can’t be considered a disability, but the symptoms may impair or prevent you from performing daily tasks or activities .It can also cause other symptoms like respiratory distress or heart problems.
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