A condition that often begins in childhood and progresses into puberty, scoliosis causes the spine to curve into an "S" or "C" shape.

What is Scoliosis?

  • Scoliosis is diagnosed when the natural curve of the spine takes on an "S" or "C" shape. Although spines have some sort of natural curve, these mild to severe curves may affect children through their adolescent years.
  • About 2% of women and about less than .5% of men are affected by scoliosis. It usually begins in the person's childhood, and progresses through puberty. Spinal curvature mostly stops after puberty. Elderly adults are also prone to scoliosis due to aging conditions like degenerative spinal diseases or osteoporosis.
  • Early detection is the best way to prevent the curve's progression. Milder curves (30 degrees and under) usually do not change after puberty, and severe curves (60 degrees and over) worsens in the affected person's adolescent years.
  • Treatments such as exercise, manipulation of the spinal curvature, or medication have consistently failed to produce any real results or help.

What causes it?

Most cases of scoliosis have unidentified causes. Scoliosis can be found in both healthy children with no other medical conditions, and children with conditions such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida. However, scoliosis' occurrence is more common in children that have one or more relatives with the condition.

Children are usually diagnosed with scoliosis in their pre-teen years. Identifying symptoms include: protruding shoulder blades, an uneven waistline, uneven shoulders, or leaning on one side while standing.

If the child is not diagnosed until their teenage years, the degree of the curvature of their spine may have been prevented. If left untreated until after the child's puberty, a mild curve most often worsens. This is because spinal curves rapidly progress through puberty.

Scoliosis may also affect elderly adults around the ages of 65 or older. Aging can cause degenerations in the spine like round back and osteoporosis, which is the softening of one's bones. Adults who develop scoliosis may experience chronic back pain and shortness of breath.

How do you treat it?

Methods of treatment highly depend on how severe scoliosis is present in the individual. Treatment sought also depends on whether preventive or corrective measures are necessary.

If diagnosis occurs when the individual is in their pre-teen or teenage years, then some sort of preventive treatment such as wearing a brace around 16 to 23 hours a day is recommended. This may help prevent their curves from progressing over the next couple of years.

However, if diagnosis occurs once they are past puberty and their spinal curve is relatively mild, then the patient may not need a brace. Elderly may not benefit from wearing a brace since the cause of their scoliosis is due to age. Also, as it is only preventive, a brace does not correct spinal curves.

Spinal fusion surgery may treat scoliosis. This procedure fuses the affected vertebrae together so the spine straightens, and a bone graft is inserted to promote healthy spinal bone growth.

If you would like more information, and you feel you may be a candidate for spinal surgery, please send us your MRI scan here and we will review it for free.

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