Scoliosis is disorder that is classified by an irregular curve in the spine or backbone. It typically occurs right before puberty during a person’s growth spurt. It is normal for the spine to have curves from a side view; however, the spine should appear to be straight when it is viewed from the front. A person with scoliosis has a curved looking spine from the front and back as well.
There are three types of curves that can occur with scoliosis: levoscoliosis, dextroscoliosis and two curves. Levoscoliosis is when the spine is curved to the left, whereas dextroscoliosis curves to the right. Scoliosis is twice as likely to occur in girls and typically happens over the age of 10. Scoliosis is a hereditary disorder, though differences in curve type and severity are unrelated.
Causes of Scoliosis
There are a few theories on the causes of scoliosis, such as neuromuscular scoliosis, congenital scoliosis, idiopathic scoliosis and degenerative scoliosis. Neuromuscular scoliosis results from irregular nerves and muscles. It is often found in people with cerebral palsy, spinal bifida or paralysis. Congenital scoliosis exists from birth due to an abnormality in the bones.
Idiopathic scoliosis is the most typical type of scoliosis and has an unknown cause. While there are many speculations on the causes, not have been proven to be the reason. It is strongly suggested that it is inherited. Degenerative scoliosis can occur after an illness, injury, back surgery, osteoporosis and bone collapse.
Who Does Scoliosis Affect?
Up to 3% of the 16 year olds in America have scoliosis. Girls are more likely to have scoliosis than boys. Scoliosis typically affects children between the ages of 10 to 16. It is not often that an adult develops scoliosis.
Scoliosis Evaluation & Warning Signs
It is common for children to find out they have scoliosis curves after a screening exam at school or the family doctor. Signs that a child could have scoliosis include:
- Protruding shoulder blade
- Uneven shoulders
- Uneven waist
- Leaning towards a single side
Finding out the type of scoliosis and diagnosing it can be done through an X-ray and bone exam.
Treatments for Scoliosis
Most adolescents with scoliosis have to attend regular observations. They are required to undergo an X-ray and physical exam every four to six months. Various treatments for scoliosis include:
- Physical Therapy – Physical therapy can help balance scoliosis effects and improve the look and shape of the body. It is possible for physical therapy to help patient’s develop a straighter posture and recover breathing. Chiropractic treatment can effectively help in treating short-term pain, though long-term results will require further consultation to find out if chiropractic treatment is ideal.
- Braces – The most common option for scoliosis adolescents with a curve anywhere between 25-40 degrees is bracing. Bracing is ideal if the bones are still developing and have a minimum of two years left to develop. Bracing is designed to prevent curve progression, though the curve can return to its original degree after bracing.
- Surgery – Surgery is often necessary for scoliosis patients with a 40-50 degree curve. While surgery will not create a completely straight spine, it will prevent the curve from worsening.