Scoliosis can cause a curvature of the spine to one side. While the curve could be in any part of the spine, mostly it affects the lower back and the upper spine.
The sideways curvature of the spine usually happens in the early teenage years or the later stages of childhood when we are growing fast. It’s worth noting that scoliosis is more common in females than it is in males.
This condition is sometimes not noticeable, but people with scoliosis are likely to lean to one side or have uneven hips or shoulders because of the curve in the spine. In many cases, the curve does not progress and the patient will not require treatment.
However, doctors might recommend physical therapy or back bracing (or both) depending on the degree of curvature and the age of the person. A very small number of patients might require surgery. Potential problems that scoliosis could cause include breathing difficulties, chronic pain, and a reduced capacity for exercise.
Before we discuss the possible causes of scoliosis, it is worth mentioning the risk factors which include age, gender and genetics.
The symptoms usually start at a young age or just before puberty. As mentioned above, the risk of scoliosis is higher with females than it is with males. Individuals with the condition often have a relative who has been diagnosed with scoliosis.
In most cases, doctors are not sure what causes scoliosis. However, in some cases, the condition may have an association with cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy and sometimes where the person has one leg longer than the other. On the other hand, it may be associated with birth defects.
Other causes where an individual can develop curvature of the spine include carrying heavy backpacks, poor posture, connective tissue disorders, and some back injuries.
While the symptoms can differ depending on the exact age of the person, scoliosis will usually happen during the early stages of life. The symptoms differ depending on the person’s age.
Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, which is the most common form of scoliosis, appears in adolescence and it can affect people between the ages of ten and eighteen years. Symptoms may include ; the ribs on each side are on different heights, one shoulder higher than the other, one hip more prominent than the other, the person leans to one side, the legs are of different lengths. Scoliosis can also cause back pain, but almost never is it too painful.
On the other hand, symptoms in infants may include; routinely lying with the body curved to one side, a bulge on one side of the chest and sometimes in more severe cases, problems with the lungs and heart that can also lead to shortness of breath and pain in the chest. If infants with scoliosis do not receive proper treatment, they will be more at risk of problems later in life.
Scoliosis is more serious in some cases, but the majority of the cases can be helped or corrected by nonsurgical scoliosis treatment. The doctor will want to have regular checkups with the patient in order to determine whether the condition is changing.
However, the doctor may recommend surgery if the skeleton is still immature and the curve is greater than 40 degrees. In most cases the curve will be less than that, and the doctor may only recommend bracing.
It is worth noting that the doctors take into account a number of different factors when deciding on treatment. These factors include sex of the patient, type and severity of the curvature, the position of the curve, bone maturity as the risk of the condition worsening is less if the patient’s bones are no longer growing.
Bracing or Casting
Braces can prevent further curvature which is why bracing is more effective while the bones are still growing. If the patient is an infant, the doctor may use plaster casting instead as that can help the spine grow into a typical position. Infants can grow up very quickly and so the doctor may have to change the casting regularly.
For a lot of patients, getting help from a chiropractor can help relieve the discomfort and pain caused by scoliosis.
Chiropractors believe that realigning the spine can promote well-being and healing. They manipulate the spine and provide alternative treatments to improve the quality of life for a person with scoliosis.
It is worth noting that this will not cure scoliosis as it does not resolve the curvature of the spine. If you wish to go to a chiropractor, make sure to choose one who specializes in scoliosis.
Different exercises can help scoliosis patients and there are various strategies. One thing to note is that all such exercises will help to realign the spine, shoulders and pelvis to achieve a typical posture.
According to a study, there is growing evidence that proves exercises can help scoliosis patients. Consult with a doctor and a physiotherapist to determine which exercises will be most effective.