The spine or vertebral column is the bony structure that protects the spinal cord. It is important to note that the vertebrae are exposed to substantial loads during usual activity which is why they have discs that cushion them. These intervertebral discs minimize the friction in between the bone, thus allowing movement. If an individual has scoliosis or finding a way to prevent its development, you have to learn more about this condition.
Close look on scoliosis
Remember that the vertebrae of the spine are structured to fit together to form a straight line when viewed from the front or back. Any deviation from this line will add strain on some of the intervertebral discs, bony processes and muscles. A left or right curving of the spine is called as scoliosis. This can be accompanied by a rotational twisting of the spine.
Causes of scoliosis
Scoliosis has various causes. It can be a condition in itself or a symptom of another condition. Take note that scoliosis is more common in females than men. It can be a congenital birth defect that is passed by the parents to a child, a result of a neuromuscular issue or result of a limb length difference.
Scoliosis can also be triggered by certain disorders such as spina bifida, spinal muscular atrophy, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy or tumors. The most common causes of scoliosis are idiopathic. It simply means that there is no known cause and can occur even in healthy individuals.
Signs and symptoms
The usual indications of scoliosis typically include the following:
- Difference in shoulder height on one side
- Prominent shoulder blade on one side
- Head not centered directly above the pelvis
- Hips appear off center with one side raised
- Body leans on one side
- Rib cage abnormalities (hump in the rib cage or one side appears higher)
- Uneven spacing of the arms away from the body
- Asymmetric size or location of the breasts
- Uneven waist
Take note that pain is not a common symptom among children with scoliosis. In case pain is noted, there might be an underlying issue such as injury or a tumor. Among adults, they may or may not have back pain with scoliosis.
Fatigue particularly during activities that involves hip and spine movement can be experienced. In severe cases of scoliosis, difficulty breathing might also be a symptom.
The treatment of scoliosis involves three main categories – observation, bracing and surgery. When it comes to minor curvatures or those that develop later are included under the observation category in which the doctor will monitor the development to ensure that the curvature will not worsen. In most cases, physical therapy involves stretching and strengthening of the muscles to prevent misalignment issues from developing. Adults can be given pain medications and a specific exercise program will follow.
In prominent curvatures especially those that continue to progress, bracing is required. Take note that bracing is only used when the body is still growing in order to prevent further curvature. This is applied until the growth of the spine has stopped.
Cases that involve more than 50% curvature or cases in adults that continue to progress, surgery is required. The surgery involves the placement of implants to support the spine or by fusion of the vertebrae on the outside of the curve to prevent further curving.