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What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is the abnormal side to side curvature of the spine. When viewed from behind, a normal spine should appear straight but the spine of a person suffering from scoliosis will show varying degrees of curvature. A person with scoliosis can have 1 or 2 curves to the spine, giving the appearance of either a "C" or "S" shaped spine.

Symptoms:
  • < 20°: elevated shoulder; paraspinal muscle imbalance and tightness
  • 20°-40°: change of alignment of thoracic, with concave side muscle spasm
  • >40°: severe spinal mal-alignment; cardiopulmonary function would be affected if conditions get worse which is life-threatening
  • Congenital - caused by bony abnormality at birth
  • Idiopathic - the most common type of scoliosis, idiopathic scoliosis appears during development with no known cause

Causes:
  • Degenerative - this can be the result of natural degenerative changes or traumatic injury to the spine
  • Neuromuscular - the result of muscle or nerve abnormalities that can lead to imbalance of the spine.

Consequences: Spinal malformation, rotation of the rib cage, visible rib hump, leg length discrepancy, muscle imbalance


Scoliosis affects children spinal health

According to government data, 2500 out of the 40000 newly diagnosed scoliosis students need orthopedic follow-ups. 2000 new cases reported per annum, i.e. every 11 students, one would carry scoliosis symptoms. Many parents always ignore their kids’ kyphotic posture and delay interventions until symptoms emerge. Idiopathic scoliosis is most commonly a condition of adolescence affecting those aged 10 through 16. And overall, girls are more likely to be affected than boys.

Scoliosis Affects the Entire Body

As the condition progresses, back pain can develop. The deformity may cause pressure on nerves and possibly even the entire spinal cord. This can lead to weakness, numbness, and pain in the lower extremities. In severe cases, pressure on the spinal cord itself may cause loss of coordination in the muscles of the legs making it difficult to walk normally.

These curves can get worse due to degeneration of the discs which results in settling of the spinal segments. Additionally, arthritis sets in the joints of the spine which leads to the formation of bone spurs. This can result in pain and stiffness of the back. In more severe cases, patients may also develop shooting pain and numbness down the legs due to pinched nerves.

Scoliosis may damage heart and lungs function

Scoliosis affects the entire skeletal system including the spine, ribs, and pelvis. Conditions arising as a result of scoliosis include rib deformity, shortness of breath, digestive problems, chronic fatigue, acute or dull back pain, leg, hip, and knee pain, acute headaches, mood swings, and menstrual disturbances. if the chest is deformed due to the scoliosis, the lungs and heart may be affected leading to breathing problems, fatigue, and even heart failure.

Treatment of Scoliosis:

The goal of treatment for scoliosis is to prevent the spinal curve from getting worse and to correct or stabilize a severe spinal curve. The number of degrees helps the doctor decide what type of treatment is necessary. A scoliosis curves that are less than 20 degrees usually need to have regular checkups until pubertal maturation and growth are complete. If the curves are 20 to 40 degrees, the orthopedist will generally suggest a back brace. A Cobb angle of 40 degrees or more may mean that surgery is necessary.

Surgical operation: with the advancement of internal fixation technique and biomechanics, the risk of operation is reduced. However, post-operation complications such as limited spinal movements, muscles atrophy, osteoporosis, osteophytes, etc. are still encountered.

Physiotherapy: Stretching exercise, muscle strengthening exercise and breathing exercise assigned by physiotherapist would help reduce recurrence and minimize complications.

Chiropractic adjustment: Chiropractor would correct the mal-aligned spine by means of biomechanical lever concepts.

Back orthosis: Daily use can prevent scoliosis from fast-worsening

Scoliosis Self Check-up

A curve in the spine may get worse as your child grows, so it is important to find any problem early. Scoliosis most often causes no symptoms in your child until the spinal curve becomes large.

Parents can ask their child to lean forward with his or her feet together and bend 90 degrees at the waist. The examiner can then easily view from this angle any asymmetry of the trunk or any abnormal spinal curvatures.

You might also notice these early signs:
Your child has one shoulder or hip that looks higher than the other.
Your child's head does not look centered over the body.
Your child has one shoulder blade that sticks out more than the other.
Your child's waistline is flat on one side, or the ribs look higher on one side when your child bends forward at the waist.