The spine is one of the body’s most important components. A damaged or poorly developed spinal column can impede one’s ability to perform practically every basic but necessary function.
Unfortunately, several maladies can impact this systemic feature. One such issue is known as thoracic scoliosis.
Thoracic Scoliosis Overview
Scoliosis is the medical term for spinal curvature. That said, there are several different subcategories of the malady. In particular, thoracic scoliosis occurs when this abnormality is present in the spine’s thoracic region. Researchers maintain this form is the most commonly diagnosed category.
The thoracic portion of the spine represents the middle of an individual’s back. Typically, thoracic scoliosis occurs on the spine’s right side. This is because the spine tends to curve away from the heart, which is situated in the body’s left side.
The disease can have a variety of causes. In an appreciable number of cases, the condition stems from some type of congenital birth defect causing the malformation of the spine’s bones and other pertinent structures.
However, the disease could develop later in life and is usually the result of neurological issues impacting the proper function of the spine’s muscles and tissues.
Symptoms might vary depending upon the severity of a given patient’s case. That said, such manifestations might include:
- Changes in posture
- Rib deformities
- Being hunched over
- One shoulder appears higher than the other
- Uneven hips
- Back pain
- Standing or walking challenges
In severe instances, stricken subjects might experience breathing as the curvature could impede on their lungs.
If not properly addressed, thoracic scoliosis could result in problems such as continued deterioration of the spine leading to permanent disability, severe breathing difficulties, crippling back pain, pain in bodily extremities and other systemic regions, an increased risk of spinal infections, irreversible nerve damage, leaking spinal fluid, and possibly even paralysis.
Diagnosis will involve several steps. The first stage will be a routine physical examination. During initial assessment, a physician will carefully investigate how a patient’s back appears when they stand straight with arms at their sides. Said healthcare providers will also determine if the examinee’s shoulders and hips are even.
Once these early evaluations are completed, a medical professional might then request the patient bends forward. Said action will enable the doctor in question to detect any curvatures in the patient’s back.
Should scoliosis be suspected, diagnostic confirmation is often made utilizing one or several imaging tools including:
During these tests, minimal concentrations of radiation are employed to help capture internal images of the spine.
This tool, sometimes abbreviated as a CT scan, internal scans are attained using three dimensional angles.
During this procedure, small doses of a radioactive substance is injected into a patient’s blood. When said substances collect in large amounts, bone maladies, especially those occurring the spinal region, could be indicated.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Typically abbreviated as an MRI, a sophisticated apparatus produces magnetic and radio waves to create in-depth images of internal images of the spine’s bones and surrounding tissues.
Potential Treatment Options
Fortunately, there are several possible treatments for thoracic scoliosis. That said, many doctors maintain that few cases are the same. The most suitable therapeutic protocol will be based on several important considerations such as:
- The patient’s age
- Said individual’s general health
- The underlying cause of spinal curvature
- The severity of the condition
- The speed with which the curvature is progressing
- What stage of growth the patient is in
These are only general considerations. Other factors might be unique to a specific patient’s prognosis.
Established Therapeutic Protocols
Back braces are a viable treatment option for certain individuals. That said, this option is most amenable to children expecting to experience growth spurts or individuals whose curvature is found to be no more than 25 to 40 degrees.
It is important to realize that braces do not reverse spinal curvature. However, said devices can prevent the condition from worsening. For maximum effectiveness, braces must be donned anywhere from 16 to 23 hours per day. Moreover, children prescribed such treatment need to wear these apparatuses until their growth ceases.
For individuals with curvatures concluded to be 40 percent or greater, surgery is often indicated.
Individuals who have been diagnosed with thoracic scoliosis or whom think they might have the condition are urged to contact us. The team of medical professionals employed at Integrative Chiropractic have extensive experience helping people with this condition and might be able to tailor a therapeutic plan unique to one’s specific circumstances.
To learn more about this and the many other services we provide, please call us at 205-637-1363.