DAVE WATTS, MD
Scoliosis is caused by abnormal curvature of the spine. There is a deviation of the spine to one side. Scoliosis may cause serious deformity, making the spine look like the letter “C” or “S”. Scoliosis impacts the lower back and it can occur at any age.
These are the five types of scoliosis.
This kind of scoliosis impacts patients above 18 years of age.
Adolescent scoliosis is common among teenagers and early teens.
The children from age 4 to 10 years are impacted by juvenile scoliosis.
Infantile scoliosis, as the name suggests is common among infants.
A congenital scoliosis means spine deformity at birth. Common cause of congenital scoliosis is abnormal formality of the spinal bones and fetal ribs.
These are some of the most common conditions causing scoliosis.
This type of scoliosis is caused by degenerative changes. These degenerative changes are triggered by the aging process, spondylosis, osteoporosis, or degenerative disc disease.
Syndrome Associated Scoliosis
The syndrome associated scoliosis can be caused by Marfan’s Syndrome or Skeletal Dysplasia.
Marfan’s Syndrome is inherited connective tissue disorder caused by affected spine ligaments. The increased laxity makes it difficult for them to firmly hold the vertebrae, causing scoliosis.
Skeletal Dysplasia is a growth related disorder. It is mainly caused by dwarfism because of growth abnormalities and development of bones and cartilage.
The neurological changes affecting the muscles like muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, polio, and cerebral palsy cause neuromuscular scolioposis.
Functional or Non-structural Scoliosis
This kind of scoliosis refers to visibly out-of-shape spine even in absence of any abnormality or structural defect. Some of the conditions not obvious include inflammation or compensatory effect to balance leg inequalities. This type of scoliosis can also be caused by unequal legs or disproportionate muscle development.
There is no particular cause identified for idiopathic scoliosis. Generic reasons are usually considered as the most common reason for idiopathic scoliosis. Most of the reported idiopathic scoliosis cases have someone in their family with the same disease.
Symptoms of Scoliosis
These are some of the common symptoms associated with scoliosis. These symptoms vary with the age of the patient, cause, and severity.
Uneven shoulders & hips
Difference in legs’ length
Prominent rib or shoulder blade
Scoliosis may also cause breathlessness in severe cases
These are some of the commonly used diagnosis methods for scoliosis.
Physical and neurological examination
Palpation of the spine
Adam’s forward bending test
Plumb line test
Evaluation of signs of neurological injury causing numbness, muscle weakness, or abnormal reflexes.
X-ray of the spine in standing and bending forward positions
Measure of the degree of the spinal curve, skeletal maturity, and vertebral rotation.
Treatment of Scoliosis
This treatment option identifies the cause of scoliosis to determine the degree and position of the spine. Age of the patient is also factored when determining the actual cause.
These are the non-operative treatment approaches opted by orthopedic surgeons.
A spinal curve below 20 degrees does not require a surgery. However, in case of a curvy spine, the patients are advised to regularly visit a spine specialist. Spine specialists keep such patients under continuous observation.
A back brace is added to patients with a spinal curve falling between 20 and 40 degrees. This back brace helps stop progression of scoliosis without having to undergo surgery. Bracing does not work with patients having congenital or neuromuscular scoliosis.
Surgery is the last option left to treat scoliosis. Surgery is recommended for patients with a severe spine curve. In most cases of severe spine curve, the normal daily functions of the patient and quality of life get seriously impacted. In some severe cases, surgery cannot wait skeletal maturity. In spine surgery hooks, screws, and metal rods are used to rectify the curve. Open or minimally invasive surgery options may be opted by the spine specialist.
Get in touch with your spine specialist at Core Orthopedics to understand the benefits and risks associated with available treatment options.