What is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a sideward bend of the spine, where the spinal cord is bent either in a “C” shape or an “S” shape. It can occur in people of all ages but is most common in children. Scoliosis is of different types such as congenital and dextroconvex, and has to do with the curvature of the spine. Its causes are mainly unknown but can be linked to some health defects. The treatment can be through surgeries, exercises, etc
Types of Scoliosis
The classification of scoliosis depends on when and how the condition progresses. The types include:
- Congenital scoliosis
This is a type of scoliosis that occurs from birth, a spinal bone curvature that you are born with.
- Early-onset scoliosis
As suggested by the name, this type of scoliosis is a curvature that appears between birth and age 10, or before puberty.
- Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.
This scoliosis develops in the puberty stage of the patient. It could be as a result of certain postures you take up as you mature, but reasons for the curvature is often unknown. Scoliosis according to the type of curvature includes Dextroconvex, Levoconvex, Kyphoscoliosis, Rotoscoliosis, Thoracolumbar.
Other types according to possible causes include Functional Scoliosis, Degenerative Scoliosis, Neuromuscular Scoliosis, Syndromic Scoliosis, Scheuermann’s Kyphosis.
Causes of Scoliosis
In the majority of cases, the cause of scoliosis is unknown, with no significant reason as to why the condition occurred. However, in some cases, causes have been traced to the following:
- Congenital or birth defects such as spina bifida, which affects an infant’s bones.
- Neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy, causing a break down of the nervous system.
- Muscular conditions and diseases such as muscular dystrophy, a genetic disorder that weakens the muscles.
- Spinal trauma, injuries, or infections.
The risk factors influencing the development of scoliosis include the following:
- Family History or Genetic Disorders
Genetic diseases such as muscular dystrophy, Filum disease, etc can be inherited from one general another in a family.
The beginning of scoliosis is often observed during the period of intense growth of the human body, puberty. It can also be observed in young children or late adolescence.
Although both boys and girls may suffer from scoliosis, recent studies have shown that girls have a higher risk of worsened scoliosis during somatic development.
When affected by scoliosis, the signs may include:
- The position of the head appears to be off-centre
- The shoulders, waist, and hips appear uneven, with one side higher than the other side.
- One side of the chest bulges, due to the curvature on the back of the rib cage, leading to a twist in the vertebrae and ribs.
- A posture that leans to one side.
- Legs may be of different lengths.
- Sleeping posture in infants is often curved to one side.
When these alterations take place and the condition becomes more severe, symptoms may include:
- Pains in the back, chest, neck, and ribs
- Lumbago; pains in the lumbar region.
- Abdominal pains
- Paraesthesia; a tickling, itchy, and burning sensation in the spinal region.
- Shortness of breath
Depending on the degrees of curvature, scoliosis can eventually cause damages, difficulties, and dysfunctions in the body that can increasingly affect the life of the patient.
Some of such complications include:
- Severe pains
- Thoracic damage
- Lungs and heart damage
- Respiratory problems.
To diagnose the disorder, imagery tests such as MRI, CT scans, and X-rays are used to view the spinal cord for curvature.
Treatment of Scoliosis
The treatments of scoliosis are often aimed at stopping the symptoms and correcting the alterations developed due to the condition. Also, treatments depend on how severe the condition is.
Treatments may include:
- Medications like painkillers to control and numb the pains.
- Device Therapy such as braces used to stop further curvature.
- Physical Therapy like exercises to correct the curved spine.
- Surgery such as spinal fusion and bone grafting to straighten or correct the curvature of the spine.