Scoliosis | A Primer
Scoliosis is a condition that affects the spine and causes it to curve to the side. The curvature of the spine can get worse as a child grows and, if left untreated, can lead to pain and deformity. Therefore, early detection and treatment are important in preventing the progression of scoliosis.
What Causes Scoliosis?
There are several possible causes, including:
- Congenital scoliosis. This type is present at birth and is caused by abnormalities in the development of the bones of the spine.
- Neuromuscular scoliosis.This type of scoliosis involves the deterioration of the nervous system or muscles, including cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy.
- Degenerative scoliosis. Typically affecting older adults, degenerative scoliosis is caused by degeneration of the discs between the vertebrae. The Hospital for Special Surgery in New York states degenerative scoliosis is often contributed to osteoarthritis or osteoporosis.
How Is Scoliosis Prevented?
There is no known way to prevent scoliosis, but early detection is important so treatment can be started as soon as possible. The earlier scoliosis is caught, the better the chances are of halting or slowing its progression.
What Are The Signs of Scoliosis?
The most common sign of scoliosis is an unevenness in the shoulders or hips, but it can present other ways, including:
- Difference in how far out each shoulder blade sticks from the back
- Head may appear to be off-center when viewed from behind
- Visible 'C' or 'S' curve in the spine
- Pain in the spine due to muscle spasms
If you notice any of these signs, make an appointment with your doctor for an evaluation.
What Is the Treatment for Scoliosis?
While there is no 'cure' for scoliosis, treatment is available to slow the disease's progression and limit its severity. Treatment for scoliosis depends on several factors, including:
- Severity of the curvature
- Potential for progression
For children who are still growing, treatment typically involves wearing a custom-made brace that protects and supports the spine while it continues to grow. For adults with scoliosis, treatment typically involves physical therapy and exercises to help strengthen core muscles and improve posture. In severe cases where brace or physical therapy treatment has not worked, surgery may be needed to correct deformities caused by scoliosis.
Left untreated, patients can have serious complications such as pain, loss of mobility, and deformities.
Scoliosis is a serious medical condition. If you think you or a loved one may have symptoms associated with scoliosis, reach out to your doctor today.