What is scoliosis?
Scoliosis was originally a Greek term meaning curved or bent. Nowadays it is a word used to describe the most common type of spinal curvature. Scoliosis is simply a descriptive term, like “headache” or “sciatica”, and not a precise diagnosis. When a scoliosis develops the spine bends sideways in combination with some rotation/twist of the vertebrae (spinal bones).
What does scoliosis look like?
When looking at the spine from the side you should see curves, which are normal (Figure 1). When looking at the spine from behind, it should appear straight (Figure 2). If curves are seen from behind, it is known as scoliosis (Figure 3).
Does it really matter if my spine is curved?
Although most curves are small, some can be progressive and lead to spinal and postural deformity. These spinal changes have cosmetic and physiological effects which may result in significant health problems with severe curves.
Types of scoliosis
There are many causes of scoliosis, just like there are many causes of “headaches” and “sciatica”.
In more than 80% of scoliosis cases a specific cause of scoliosis is not known. These cases are termed idiopathic scoliosis (meaning of undetermined cause and not associated with any other disease or disorder)
Less often scoliosis cases are associated with other medical conditions. These include conditions such as
- Congenital abnormalities of the spine
- Neuromuscular diseases and disorders
- Paralytic – loss of spinal cord function from disease, disorder or injury
It is important to determine which type of scoliosis the patient has in order to provide the best care.
Who can develop scoliosis?
Scoliosis can affect both children and adults, though it can be more serious in children as it can rapidly progress as they grow .
Scoliosis is usually first seen in children between the ages of 11 and 15. However, it can occur in younger children aged 3 to 10 years (juvenile scoliosis) and in babies (infantile scoliosis). Scoliosis can also occur in adults with no previous history, due to spinal degeneration and advancing age.
How do I know if I’ve got scoliosis?
The answer is simple…… look for it. There are changes to the body and posture which can indicate if you’re likely to have scoliosis. Below are some “warning signs” to look out for.
- 1. Asymmetrical shoulders (one higher than the other)
- 2. Prominent shoulder blade
- 3. Obvious exaggerated curve of the spine
- 4. Asymmetrical waist
- 5. Asymmetrical hips
If you notice one or more of these signs, you should consult a trained health professional for a full assessment. We are here to help answer any questions you may have. Early detection and treatment is essential with scoliosis. Nowadays there are many treatment options available.
If you would like more information about scoliosis for yourself or a loved one, or need some advice or support, please call our team on 83962929.