Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine that typically occurs prior to puberty during growth spurts. The cause of scoliosis is unknown in most cases but may be caused by other conditions like muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy. In general, the majority of scoliosis cases are mild. In more severe cases, scoliosis may cause some children to develop deformities of the spine that will become more severe over time through the growing process. Scoliosis that is severe can cause issues that may disable individuals. Mild scoliosis is typically monitored through the use of x-rays in order to make sure the curvature of the spine is not getting severe. In most cases, no treatment is necessary for mild scoliosis. In more severe cases, children may have to wear braces in order to stop the spine from curving. Surgery is conducted for the most severe cases in order to straighten the spine.
Symptoms of scoliosis can include the following:
- Uneven waist
- Uneven shoulders
- Having one hip sit higher than the other
- Having one shoulder blade that appears to protrude more than the other
If the curvature of the spine becomes more severe due to scoliosis, the spine will begin to rotate or twist as well as a curve to the side. This will then cause one side of the body, specifically the ribs, to stick out more than the other side of the body. If your child has symptoms of scoliosis, you should contact your doctor for an examination. Mild cases of scoliosis often go unnoticed, as they develop slowly and often do not cause any pain.
Causes, Risk Factors, and Complications of Scoliosis
The causes of most cases of scoliosis are unknown. The development of scoliosis may be influenced by hereditary factors as scoliosis typically runs in families. The more severe cases of scoliosis may be due to birth defects that affect the development of the spine, neuromuscular conditions (e.g., muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy), injuries to the spine, or infections of the spine. Risk factors for developing scoliosis are age, gender, and family history. Children that are about to go through puberty are more likely to develop scoliosis due to the growth spurt that occurs prior to puberty. Females and males develop scoliosis around the same rate, but females are much more likely to have severe scoliosis which requires treatment and possible surgery. Scoliosis can also run in families, but many individuals diagnosed with scoliosis do not have a family history of scoliosis.
The complications of scoliosis are seen typically in individuals with a severe form of the disease. These complications can include back problems, lung and heart damage, and a change in physical appearance. Adults who developed scoliosis as children typically have higher rates of chronic back pain when compared to others in the general population. In cases of severe scoliosis, lung and heart damage may occur. This is due to the rib cage pressing against the heart and lungs, which then makes it more difficult to breathe and the heart is not able to pump at the same rate as an average individual. Finally, as scoliosis becomes more severe, it can cause an individual’s physical appearance to change. Individuals with severe scoliosis may have uneven shoulders, uneven hips, protruding ribs, and an uneven waistline.
The treatment for scoliosis will vary on a case by case basis. Many children with scoliosis do not need treatment, while others may need to wear a brace or have corrective surgery. Children diagnosed with scoliosis usually have to visit their doctor every four months to make sure their spine curvature has not gotten worse. The treatment an individual receives for their scoliosis depends on several factors including their gender, the curve pattern, the severity of the curve, maturity, and the location of the curve. Females usually have a much larger risk of their scoliosis worsening than males. Curves that are doubled (i.e., S-shaped curves) usually are more severe than single curves (i.e., C shaped curves). Curves that are located in the center of the spine are typically more severe than curves in the upper or lower sections of the spine. Finally, if a child is no longer experiencing bone growth, the risk of the progression of scoliosis is lowered.
If you would like more information regarding scoliosis treatment, please contact us today at 205-637-1363.