What is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis in an unnatural curvature of the spine. This curvature is sideways in nature and is never considered normal. Unlike lordosis and kyphosis, which are both natural inward and outward curves of the spine and can become problematic when these curves are excessive in either direction, no amount of a scoliotic curve is considered normal and natural. This is an issue that usually presents itself shortly prior to puberty and worsens over time. Scoliosis less commonly presents in adulthood, known as Degenerative Scoliosis.
Scoliosis may range from presenting as a mild curve with no intervention necessary to a severely painful, disabling curvature of the spine. This lateral curve of the spine of the spine is measured in degrees. From an X-ray of the spine, a doctor will be able to determine if your child’s spine is beginning to show signs of scoliosis. Scoliosis is diagnosed when a child’s spine is curved 10 degrees or greater. Around 3 percent of children have a lateral curve of the spine greater than 10 degrees. A curve much higher than 10 degrees is rare. Each part of the spine may be affected in Scoliosis, but it is most commonly seen in the lower and upper back.
Scoliosis is categorized as either structural or non-structural. Structural Scoliosis is much more common than non-structural. This refers to a permanent curvature of the spine that can only be corrected with treatment. Non-structural Scoliosis occurs when the curve of the spine is transient, caused by something temporary. This is also referred to as Functional Scoliosis and the curve is reversed and normalized whenever the offending factor contributing to the scoliotic curve is removed.
There are 3 main types of Scoliosis that are indicated by age of onset and determined as one of the following:
- Congenital: the least common type, this is when an infant is born with an underdeveloped spine and an unnatural curve is detected at the beginning of life
- Neurological: this is when the spine develops with an abnormal curve throughout life
- Idiopathic: no known cause for the curvature
How Do You Get Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a condition that unfortunately, in the vast majority of cases, has no known cause. Some risk factors that may lead to a curving of the spine are:
- Cerebral Palsy
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Spina Bifida and other birth defects
- Trauma and infections of the spine
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Symptoms of Scoliosis do not always require that pain is present. There are other signs that may be noticed that can indicate a possible curvature of the spine. These are:
- Uneven hips, shoulder blades, and legs
- Leaning to one side when standing
- Difficulty standing up straight and/or walking
- A bump noticed in the upper or lower back
- Loss of height
- Breathing difficulties
If You Are Experiencing Symptoms, Schedule an Appointment Dr. Burke Orthopedics Immediately.
Scoliosis rarely requires surgery. Only in the most advanced cases, will surgical intervention be required. This generally requires placing a rod in the spine in order to prevent it from curving further. But the condition does not usually progress to this point and is often manageable through use of a back brace and physical therapy. Early diagnosis is key.