What is Scoliosis?
In general, Spine has little curves when seen from the front. Though it has normal curvatures like cervical and lumbar curvature inwards (normal lordosis) and thoracic curvature outwards (normal kyphosis) structure, it is straight when seen from the front.
If it bends as seen from the front and the magnitude of curvature is greater than 10 degrees, then the condition is referred to Scoliosis. This is a common spinal condition usually seen in children of age between 10-15 years just before the onset of puberty.
Facts About Scoliosis?
- Scoliosis is a condition of improper curvature of the Spine and not resulted due to bad posture.
- When you see someone with the condition of Scoliosis from the front, the shape of the spine curve looks like an S or a C shape.
- According to research conducted by Orthopaedic Surgeons, girls are ten times more at risk of developing scoliosis condition than boys above the age of 10 years. The chances of worsening of the spinal curvature are also eight times are more likely seen in girls than boys.
- The chances of hereditary are also less than 30% in the case of Scoliosis condition.
- In the case of mild scoliosis conditions, they do not require any surgical treatment or braces. You are suggested to do some form of exercises that are effective in scoliosis management. You will be monitored by your doctor in regular checkups done for every 4-5 months.
- Early diagnosis and treatment is the key to treating Scoliosis. If it is left untreated, it can cause chronic back pain and even interfere with the functions of the heart and lungs.
What Are The Types Of Scoliosis?
Generally, there are two categories of Scoliosis:
Structural Scoliosis: It is the most common form of Scoliosis. It fixed lateral (side-to-side) curvature of the Spine in addition to the rotation. This is a type of Scoliosis that affects the structure of the Spine and is permanent unless proper treatment is provided.
Nonstructural Scoliosis: It is also termed as functional Scoliosis and results from a temporary change in the curvature of the Spine. This is caused by some underlying conditions like the difference in length of leg, muscle spasms, or inflammatory diseases. Treating these underlying conditions can eliminate nonstructural Scoliosis.
Structural Scoliosis is considered as a severe condition because improper treatment or no treatment can worsen the condition and possibly result in more spinal deformity. The types of structural Scoliosis include:
- Congenital Scoliosis – is a type of condition that is seen at the time of birth itself.
- Early-onset Scoliosis – it is also called as degenerative Scoliosis as it this type of Scoliosis caused due to deterioration of the facet joints located in the Spine. This type of Scoliosis appears before 10 years of age or before puberty.
- Idiopathic Scoliosis – it is the most common form of Scoliosis that accounts for about 8 in 10 cases. Typically it is seen during adolescence, but it might start in childhood or infancy. In this condition, the shape of the Spine is altered, i.e. curving sideways and twisting at the same time when a child is growing.
- Degenerative Scoliosis – It is also called adult-onset scoliosis because it mostly occurs in adults due to the deterioration of the facet joints in the Spine.
- Neuromuscular Scoliosis – it is a type of idiopathic Scoliosis that develops due to various neuromuscular disorders like muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy. The shape of the Spine is altered when the nerves and muscles can’t sustain proper alignment and balance of the Spine.
- Syndromic Scoliosis – the name itself suggests that syndromic Scoliosis is developed as a result of the syndrome. Some of the syndromes that are associated with syndromic Scoliosis are Rett’s syndrome, muscular dystrophy, Beale’s syndrome, etc.
- Scheuermann’s kyphosis – Scheuermann’s kyphosis is an abnormal shape of the Spine, which is a forward rounding of the Spine. Usually, kyphosis affects the cervical Spine and Thoracic Spine, whereas Scoliosis affects the lower Spine or Lumbar Spine. Scheuermann’s kyphosis is typically diagnosed during adolescence.
What Causes Scoliosis?
In most of the cases, the exact cause of a curved spine is not known, and experts are working on it to find the precise cause. Scoliosis of unknown origin is called “idiopathic”. The condition mostly affects children and teenagers of age between 10 to 18 years. Some of the possible causes of Scoliosis include:
- Neuromuscular conditions such as cerebral palsy, poliomyelitis, and muscular dystrophy that affects the nerves and muscles.
- Scoliosis that present at the time of birth due to the abnormal bone growth in the Spine.
- Specific genes are thought to be involved in Scoliosis.
- When one leg is shorter than the other, it may also lead to Scoliosis.
- Osteoporosis can cause secondary Scoliosis because of bone degeneration.
- Genetic conditions
- Some other cause spinal injuries or infections, connective tissue disorders.
The risk factors involved in developing Scoliosis include age, family history of Scoliosis and sex. Even though both boys and girls are at risk of developing Scoliosis, but girls are at higher risk.
When To Meet A Doctor?
Scoliosis is a dangerous disorder; if the condition gets worse, over time, the Spine will rotate or twist along curving side to side. This pushes one side of the ribs to stick out than the other side. You need to consult a spine surgeon immediately in such cases. If you think you are at risk of Scoliosis, what out for the symptoms, which include:
- One shoulder is higher than another one
- uneven hips
- A rotating or twisting spine
- Breathing problems due to reduced chest area for lungs to expand
- back pain
- Uneven leg lengths
- The person might lean to one side while walking
However, mild curves may appear without knowing it because they don’t cause pain and appear gradually. Early diagnosis and treatment can eliminate further damage.
How Do Doctors Treat Scoliosis?
Scoliosis condition can be mild, moderate and severe curves. The decision of treatment always depends on an individual basis. It is associated with factors such as the severity of the curve, the pattern of the curve, location of the curve, age and gender etc. The treatment options include braces and surgery.
In a growing child, the bones are in a developing stage, so in case of moderate Scoliosis, a doctor might recommend wearing a brace. Of course, wearing a brace might not cure the condition or reverse the curve, but prevents further development of the curve.
Braces are mostly made of plastic and are shaped to fit the body correctly. These braces are almost invisible under your clothes and fit under the arms and around your rib cage, lower back and hips.
Braces can wear day and night and the more time you wear the effective it is. Children wearing braces can participate in most of the activities as usual with few restrictions. While participating in sports or any other physical activities, kids can take off their brace if necessary. Kids stop wearing braces after the bones stop growing.
Surgery For Scoliosis
The severity of Scoliosis progresses over time; in cases, your spine doctor might suggest surgery for Scoliosis to overcome the severity of the spinal curve. Scoliosis surgery prevents the condition from getting worse. Spinal fusion is the most common scoliosis surgery performed by a spine surgeon.
In spinal fusion procedure, spine surgeons connect two or more vertebrae with new bone grafts to limit independent movement. Sometimes pieces of bone or a bone-like substance are arranged between the vertebrae and metal rods, screws or wires to hold that spine part straight while bone fuses together.
In the case of rapid progression of Scoliosis at a young age, the spine surgeon installs a rod, and as the child grows, the rod is lengthened every six months. This rod is connected from the top to bottom parts of the spinal curvature.
Usually, children can go back to their daily routine after 4–6 weeks and can even play sports roughly after a year from the surgery. In some cases, a back brace is suggested to support the Spine for about six months. The result of spine surgery is at its best when the surgical intervention is performed by an expert spine surgeon like Dr Surya Prakash. If you or your children are facing any problems related to your Spine, get it checked for better health.