Scoliosis is a sideways curvature in your spine, which often occurs when you are a child or teenager. The regular shape of a person’s spine has a curve at the top of the shoulder and at the lower back. However, if your spine is curved from side to side or in an “S” or “C” shape, you might have scoliosis.
Most cases of scoliosis are mild, but some cases get more severe as the child grows older, and if it becomes too severe it can even be disabling. For example, scoliosis can reduce the space within the chest, making it difficult for the lungs to function properly.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Signs and symptoms of scoliosis may include:
- Uneven shoulders, and one shoulder blade appears more prominent than the other
- Uneven hips
- Back pain and stiffness
- One side of the ribs may stick out compared to the other side
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES AND RISK FACTORS?
The exact cause of scoliosis is often unknown. Some causes that may increase your chances of scoliosis include:
- Neuromuscular disorders such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy
- Birth defects that affect how the spine develops
- Spinal injuries or infections
- Family history of scoliosis
- Age (children who have just started their growth spurt are at higher risk)
- Gender (girls are at higher risk than boys of developing scoliosis)
WHAT IS THE DIAGNOSIS?
A history of the injury and a physical examination of your spine will be conducted by the Doctor. He will get you to stand straight with your arm at the sides and ask you to bend forward to check on the shape of your spine.
Imaging tests will be taken, such as a x-ray, CT scan and MRI scan to help your doctor get a better idea of your scoliosis.
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS?
Treatment options for your scoliosis largely depends on how curved your spine is. Factors such as your age and the structure of your spine will be taken into consideration as well.
One of the main treatment option is bracing. Bracing is considered if the curve of the spine is within 25 to 40 degrees, and if they are still of growing age. Although bracing will not help with the straightening of the spine, it can help prevent the curve from getting bigger. Bracing is most effective for scoliosis cases that are being detected early.
The other treatment option is surgery. Surgery is recommended for curves in the spine that are greater than 40 degrees. The surgery that is commonly performed is known as spinal fusion. During this procedure, your vertebrae is fused together using a bone graft and screws. This results in a single bone that is formed by the bone graft and your vertebrae.