By Apollo 24/7, Published on - 11 June 2021
Scoliosis refers to an abnormal curve in the spine that usually develops in children between 10-15 years of age although it can also occur in adults (usually females). It generally does not cause pain but due to the visible abnormal spinal curve, it can result in emotional distress in children and adolescents. In rare and severe cases of scoliosis, the space inside the chest may get reduced and hamper the functioning of the lungs.
Early detection and treatment of scoliosis are crucial in preventing curve progression and deformities.
Scoliosis is a condition characterized by curvature of the spine. Scoliosis causes twisting or rotation of the spinal bones resulting in a sideways curve that looks more like the letter ‘C’ or ‘S’ when seen on an X-ray. The curvature mostly occurs in the upper and middle back, though it can develop in the lower back as well. It can sometimes involve both the upper and lower parts of the spine. The spine curvatures can range from as low as 10 degrees (mild) to as high as 100 degrees (severe) on X-rays. Curvatures of over 30 degrees may need treatment by an orthopaedic doctor.
Symptoms of scoliosis may vary depending on the degree of scoliosis. The symptoms include:
The affected individuals often notice that their clothes do not fit properly as they did before. Also noticeable are an uneven waist, or that their one pant leg is at a different length than the other. Some people may experience back pain. However, this is more commonly seen in adults with scoliosis.
There are different types of scoliosis based on what causes them:
Cerebral palsy, birth defects, muscular dystrophy, tumours, infections, and genetic conditions like Down syndrome and Marfan syndrome can also cause scoliosis.
Though the exact reason for the prevalence of scoliosis in females (especially girls) has not been fully established, some theories have been proposed which include:
The early initiation of puberty and rapid growth spurts in females may also be one of the possible reasons why scoliosis is more common among them.
Very young children may not require treatment and the curve seems to improve over time. However, older children often require bracing (wearing a brace) or may have to undergo a surgical procedure for severe scoliosis. However, in adults, treatment aims to relieve pain by using painkillers, spinal injections, and rarely, surgery.
Treatment for scoliosis depends upon the location and severity of the curve, the child’s age and, the remaining number of growing years as the curve does not progress rapidly in a fully grown child. The treatment modalities include:
The majority of people with scoliosis have a mild form of the condition. However, it can cause some complications which include:
Most children affected have a mild form of scoliosis but some deformities continue to progress as the children grow. During the early stages, symptoms are often subtle and go unnoticed. Hence, knowing about scoliosis and what to look for, will help parents to be more alert to the slight changes in the child’s spine and appearance. Also, catching the condition early provides more time to correct the problem before it gets worse and cause complications such as damage to the lungs and heart.
For any concerns/queries on musculoskeletal health including scoliosis, you can talk to an orthopaedician.
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