The Spinal cord serves to support human body weight and keeps the entire body system tied together in more ways than one. Consisting of stacks of small bones ranging in size from 2-6 inches in diameter, the spine reveals two gentle curves in the shape of “S” when viewed laterally. The presence of an abnormal tilt or curvature in the spine is referred to as “Scoliosis” in medical terminology. Patients diagnosed for this disease, usually have their vertebra twist on the others in a corkscrew fashion.
On an average, over 3-5 out of 1000 are affected with the symptoms of Scoliosis. It has been commonly reported that the disease has a greater effect on girls than boys and occurs in children aged over 10 years of age.
Some of the Causes of Scoliosis
Congenital Scoliosis is caused by the abnormality present in the bones of the patient since childbirth.
Caused as a result of abnormal nerves and muscles, Neuromuscular Scoliosis is often found in people suffering from spina bifida, conditions accompanied by paralysis or cerebral palsy.
Degenerative scoliosis is caused due to traumatic nerve collapse, osteoporosis or thinning of bones, conditions connected with past surgeries of the back and so forth.
Even though it is the most common types of scoliosis, there are no identifiable causes related to the occurrence of Idiopathic scoliosis. The theories do not have any conclusive evidence though some of them suggest hereditary factors as their main cause. 85 percent of all known cases of the disease are diagnosed as Idiopathic scoliosis.
Common Symptoms of Scoliosis
The symptoms which occur as a result of the curvature in the spine, lead to the head being placed off –center and one shoulder or hip being lower than the other. Patients suffering from Scoliosis are known to walk with an abnormal and rolling gait. It is also common to find opposite sides of the body appearing at different levels. Activities which require high levels of participation of chest and belly movements, lead to fatigue and physical stress along with a pain in the back.
The symptoms connected with Scoliosis are generally mild but in certain cases they may lead to heart and lung complications. As a result of serious conditions, the ribs start pressing against these organs, making it difficult for the patients to breathe properly and also effects the blood circulation system. Adults, who have suffered from Scoliosis at an earlier stage in their lives, are more likely to suffer from chronic back pain than others. Those suffering from Scoliosis are often conscious of their appearance as the disease results in noticeable changes including uneven shift of the waist or trunk, prominent ribs and wrongly aligned shoulders.
Some of the Risk Factors Associated With Scoliosis
The symptoms of scoliosis start developing in the years of natural growth just before the onset of puberty. Most common occurrences of the disease take place in patients in their teenage years.
The feminine sex is more prone to Scoliosis and is usually found to be at a greater risk of the conditions worsening and requiring medical treatment and advice for correcting the curvature.
Even though most children suffering from Scoliosis do not have an incidence of the disease in their families, the impact of heredity and family history cannot be totally negated.
Treatment for Scoliosis
Along with low radiation X-Ray and a physical examination, most Scoliosis patients are observed at a regular interval of four to six months to make the treatment process more effective.
Treatment Processes for Scoliosis Include
Adolescents having a spinal curve ranging from 25-40 degrees in angle are recommended bracing for treatment purposes. Braces are the ideal choice for those patients whose bones are still in the stage of maturing and have a remaining period of 2 years of natural growth. Braces halt the natural progression of the curve and allow the spine to achieve its natural magnitude.
Scoliosis patients with a spine curvature of more than 40-50 degrees are often recommended surgical intervention for the correction of the same. The surgery does not lead to a perfect straightening of the spine but does help in preventing the worsening of its conditions and symptoms. The surgery involves placement of metallic implants to correct the curvature until the bone graft, placed during surgery, consolidates to create a rigid fusion in the region.
Electrical Stimulation and Proper Exercises
Spinal manipulation, electrical stimulation and properly conducted exercise programs are also recommended, though they do not have any impactful results in the treatment of Scoliosis.
It is important to note that a large majority of scoliosis cases do not require any treatment. For curvatures less than 25°, no treatment should be initiated and the patient can be re-examined every 4-6 months by the medical expert. If the curvature happens to be more than 25° but less than 30°,then the condition may require the support of back brace for early cure and treatment.
Surgical corrections may be required in curves which stand at an angle of 45°. The process involves fusion of the vertebra to bring about positive corrections in the curvature and may also require the insertion of rods in the vicinity of the spine to reinforce the effects of surgery.
The options related for proper treatment of scoliosis depends on the probability of the situation worsening in future rather than the angle of curvature. For example, a patient having 29° of curvature but no further deterioration in condition may not require treatment while a child with a smaller curve of 20° and four more expected years of growth may require immediate consultation and intervention.
Scoliosis is found to occur in less than ½% of men and in approximately 2% of women patients globally. Starting in the pre-teen or teenage years, scoliosis can be corrected and treated with proper timely measures.