What is Scoliosis?
FACTUALLY ACCURATE & VERIFIED BY
Dr. Clayton J. Stitzel
LAST UPDATED ON
October 28, 2021
What is scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a medical condition characterized by an abnormal curvature of the spine. It can occur in both children and adults, and the severity of the curvature can vary. Treatment options include bracing, specialized exercise programs (Scoliosis Boot Camp), and in severe cases, surgery.
Idiopathic scoliosis, which makes up over 80% of all cases, has no known cause. Yet, that doesn’t mean we don’t know much about the condition or its treatment. Below is an up-to-date summary of facts.
It appears to be mostly driven by patterns of genetic variants. The 3-D change in the spine’s alignment — the spine curvature — is the primary and most obvious symptom of the condition, adolescent scoliosis. That is why it is a whole-body condition that requires comprehensive treatment options. This is one of the great obstacles that has challenged health care professionals worldwide for centuries.
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How Common Is Scoliosis?
The condition occurs most often in children aged 9 to 14, affecting females 7 times more than males. “Scoliosis” is (idiopathic being the most common type of scoliosis) a broad term that may describe a spinal curve of 10 degrees or higher. The curve occurs at different points of the spine in each case, but develops in 1 of 4 common curve patterns. It may or may not tilt the pelvis. Scoliosis causes a bent spine, curvy spine, or even an S-shaped spine. It may only have a curve on one side, elevates one shoulder, or make one shoulder blade prominent. But it is not life-threatening after the age of 5, prompting many doctors to conclude it does not need treatment.
To learn more about how to treat the whole condition and not only the curve, connect with our passionate providers at ScoliSMART. To explore a non-brace/ non-surgical treatment for your child’s scoliosis problem, you may schedule a no-cost Zoom or phone consultation with a ScoliSMART doctor. Please get in touch with us today!
What Is the Main Cause of Scoliosis?
Is scoliosis hereditary? Is scoliosis genetic? Curvature of the spine (scoliosis meaning “crookedness” and deformity) has been documented in medical records dating back to 450 BC. Historically, it has been considered and treated only like a spinal problem. But a growing and overwhelming volume of evidence supports curves of the spine are so much more than a curved spine.
Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis stems from a family history of genetic variant patterns. These affect and hormones. These combine to create an incorrect “posture memory” of spine alignment during periods of rapid growth. These risk factors can not be helps by bracing. These DNA findings are the suspected causes of scoliosis and result in a twisted spine. Non-invasive, home-collected saliva and urine samples can help determine if a diagnosis of scoliosis is likely or if the genetic risk factors that cause severe cases during puberty.
What Scoliosis Looks Like
Most patients lose some degree of curvature in their necks, resulting in forward head position. The sideways curve of the spine that is greater than 10 degrees. It causes the rib cage to twist and the normal curves of the spine to flatten. The curve looks twisted where the spine is curved when viewed from the front or side on x-ray, but the vertebrae appear twisted when viewed from the top down on MRI.
Understanding the faulty “postural memory” of the spine on an x-ray is like watching the wind outside a window. You cannot actually see the wind, yet you can tell the direction and force in which it is blowing by the way it affects the grass, trees, and leaves.
What type of scoliosis do you have?
1 Idiopathic scoliosis
The most common type of curvature. Idiopathic means of unknown origin. Depending on the age of onset, it may be infantile (birth to 3 years), juvenile (age 3 to 8), adolescence (age 9 to 18), or adults (after age 18). A physical examination is necessary to diagnose and determine the severity of the curvature.
2 Congenital scoliosis
These are rare cases, affecting the vertebrae of 1 in 10,000 babies in utero
3 Neuromuscular scoliosis or Syndromic
Developed by children who have neuromuscular disorders like muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy and may involve the brain or spinal cord, pediatric rehabilitation is a specialized field that focuses on improving the quality of life for children with disabilities.
Adult scoliosis; a degenerative condition (often accompanied with arthritis and lumbar back pain in older adults) that typically occurs after age 40.
What Are the Early Signs of Scoliosis?
Catching it early is critical because once a curve measures 25 degrees or more, there is a 68 percent chance the curve may get worse. You may detect it in its early stages by observing five different points on your child’s body. It is important to consult with a health care provider if you suspect your child may have scoliosis.
- Eye line Are your child’s eyes level or is the eye line tilted?
- Shoulder level Do your child’s shoulders hang even or is one higher than the other?
- Hips Are your child’s hips even or is one hip higher or more pronounced?
- Forward head position When you look from the side, does your child’s mid-ear line up with the tip of the shoulder?
- Head to hip line Would a line from the center of your child’s eyes line up horizontal to the center of the hips?
You may also use a detection method called Adam’s forward bend test. Have your child do a full forward bend to see if the rib cage (shoulder blade) sticks out on one side, especially on the right side. If your child appears out of line using any of these views, he or she may have a spinal curvature causing asymmetry. A trained expert physical therapy will help you determine if your child needs early-stage intervention. Make sure any evaluation includes a standing full spine x-ray or standing MRI.
Now it’s even easier to connect with ScoliSMART. Schedule your no-cost, no-obligation phone or Zoom consultation online with a ScoliSMART physician. Visit the ScoliSMART BootCamp page and click the “Schedule Online” button at the top of the page. Then select the best date and time to connect with a physician. Schedule your consultation right here!
Curvature of the spine often is associated with family history. Although progressive scoliosis of the spine affects girls more often, your boys will be just as likely to develop it. Remind your pediatrician to check your children for a spine curve, especially if it runs in the family. Many parents are opting for genetic testing for scoliosis in children who are still growing. This very simple and safe saliva test may predict if patients are at higher risk for severe curves, differentiate different types of scoliosis, determine their need for treatment, and even predict some of the symptoms of scoliosis.
Importance of Early Intervention
Prompt attention is vital in addressing a curved spine. Neglecting the condition can result in various health problems, including long-lasting pain, breathing difficulties, and reduced mobility. Seeking medical help as soon as initial signs of spinal curvature appear can aid in identifying the root cause and administering appropriate treatment. It is worth noting that the available treatment options may differ based on the extent of the curvature, and regular visits to a healthcare professional are necessary to monitor its progression and make any necessary adjustments to the treatment plan. By actively pursuing early intervention measures, you can effectively manage your condition and enhance your overall quality of life.
What Will Happen If Scoliosis Is Not Treated Correctly?
Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is a neurological-hormonal condition rooted in a genetic predisposition. This is vital when it comes to choosing treatments. Usually, an orthopedic doctor who only measures a Cobb angle will recommend:
- No treatment or only observation.
- They may recommend a rigid back brace for up to 23 hours a day for a curve measuring 25 to 40 degrees. Full time bracing is almost impossible for kids. Some find nighttime bracing to be more tolerable.
- Surgical treatment to fuse the vertebra and reduce spinal deformity may be recommended for people with curves measuring over 50 degree Cobb angle. Unfortunately, injections and spinal fusion with metal rods often for severe curves leads to complications that include back pain, numbness along the incision following the backbone.
All three options may be limiting and frustrating to you and your child. These are not the only options, nor the best. The ScoliSMART Clinic doctors prefer to improve the patient’s posture memory in a way that reduces the curve. We don’t wait for a curve to get worse, use a rigid brace, or recommend spinal fusion surgery unless it is a last resort.
Don’t Wait & Watch Mild Scoliosis
ScoliSMART Clinics doctors never recommend waiting and watching. This is because all large curves begin as small curves. This is a chronic, progressive condition. It often progresses throughout childhood and into adulthood. We recommend starting a posture memory retraining approach like Small Curve Camp for scoliosis as soon as your child’s curve is detected.
Do orthopedic specialists support the ScoliSMART Approach?
Yes! Many orthopedic surgeons support exercise treatments. Our hope is to help families catch it early so children can start scoliosis-specific exercises that halt progression, improve spinal deformity, and reduce curvature. Early Stage Intervention is ideal; but, every child (and adult) with this condition deserves a better treatment regardless of their age or curve size!
ScoliSMART Clinics is committed to treating the WHOLE scoliosis condition, not only the curve. Genetic & clinical testing with targeted nutrient therapies, expert in-office treatment programs, and the world’s only ScoliSMART Activity Suit provides patients of all ages with the most comprehensive, most effective, and least invasive treatment options available worldwide.
Find a better way to treat mild scoliosis:
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