Scoliosis is a medical condition of spinal deformity. Letters C and S are mostly used to describe the curvature of the spine. The condition can be mild or disabling. Severe spinal curves can affect respiratory and heart conditions. But most often cases of scoliosis are mild with no known cause. Doctors diagnose the condition with X-rays and MRI scans. Any spine that has a curve over 10 degrees is diagnosed with scoliosis.
If you have scoliosis, you have visible symptoms like:
- Obvious curve back
- Uneven shoulders, waist and hips
- Having shoulder blades that are not uniform in size
- Protruding ribs
- Sideways curving of body when standing straight
- Lower back pain
- Difficulty of walking
While most people with scoliosis have a minor symptom, scoliosis sometimes can still cause complications, including:
- Respiratory & cardiovascular problems. In severe scoliosis, the spine rotates and presses against the lungs. This tightens the space available for the respiratory contraction, making it hard to breathe. Similarly, if the rib cage twists enough, it will shrink the spacing for the heart. This can affect the heart’s ability to pump blood and oxygen.
- Back Pain and numbness. People who developed scoliosis in childhood are more likely to experience chronic back pain. Curvatures that are left untreated can cause painful spasms. Inflammation can develop in the muscles around the spine that lead to pain and numbness. Curving of the backbone can cause degeneration of intervertebral discs and facet joints. Scoliosis can also make bones become rigid and stiff. This limits the spine’s flexibility.
- Obvious Appearance. As scoliosis worsens, it can cause more noticeable changes. Uneven hips and shoulders, as well as prominent ribs, and a shift of the waist and trunk to the side are obvious when wearing clothes. Adult individuals with scoliosis often become stressed and depressed about their appearance.
When diagnosing scoliosis, there are two types of scoliosis curves that doctors look at. Structural and nonstructural scoliosis. Non-serious conditions cause nonstructural scoliosis. Treating these problems will also probably help treat scoliosis. In structural scoliosis, the curve is caused by a serious medical illness and can’t be reversed. That’s why people who are suffering from cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy are more prone to have scoliosis.
Doctors also believe that heredity and age play a big factor in causing scoliosis. Most patients with scoliosis have a family history of the disease. Scoliosis affects the elderly more than middle-aged individuals. In sexes, both genders have the same percentage of developing scoliosis. But females have a much higher risk of curve worsening compared to males.
Types of Scoliosis
Idiopathic scoliosis. Idiopathic scoliosis is hereditary scoliosis that has no known cause.
Congenital scoliosis. Congenital scoliosis affects newborn babies. The condition develops before birth.
Neuromuscular scoliosis. Neuromuscular is caused by a certain muscular disorder like spina bifida, ALS, or a spinal cord injury.
Degenerative scoliosis. Degenerative scoliosis affects adults, typically elderly people.
When to see a doctor
Consult your doctor immediately if you notice signs of scoliosis! Mild curves can cause severe complications later on. Untreated scoliosis will have a long-term serious effect on both physical and emotional health.