Sunday, July 28, 2019

Understanding Scoliosis: Treatments, Symptoms, and Causes

Scoliosis is a medical condition characterized by the abnormal curvature of the spine. This spinal problem is more common in children, especially during the growth spurt before puberty. While it can affect any part of the spine, scoliosis is more common in the level of the chest and lower back region. The curvature of the backbone takes a “C” or “S” shape.

While most scoliosis is mild, severe scoliosis can affect a person’s quality of life. The reduced amount of space in the chest area can prevent the lungs from functioning properly.

What Are The Causes
Unfortunately, the causes of the most common type of scoliosis remain unknown. Doctors use the term “idiopathic” for scoliosis without a known cause.

There are four types of scoliosis. In structural scoliosis, the spine may be curved but it functions normally. Among the common causes include:
- One leg is longer than the other
- Muscle spasms
- Inflammation, such as appendicitis

Structural scoliosis is characterized by a rigid spine, which cannot be reversed. Its causes include:
- Cerebral palsy
- Birth defects
- Muscular dystrophy
- Tumours
- Infections
- Genetic problems, such as Down Syndrome and Marfan Syndrome

Congenital scoliosis can start as early as before birth, especially during the development of the baby’s back. Problems can occur in the vertebrae, causing the spine to curve. In congenital scoliosis, the vertebrae fail to divide properly or are incomplete. This type of scoliosis can be detected as early as the child’s birth.

Degenerative scoliosis is more common in adults. It usually affects the lower back as the spinal joints and discs start to wear as you age.

However, many people think that a child can develop scoliosis due to carrying heavy schoolbags. While it may cause neck, back, and shoulder pain, it does not necessarily cause scoliosis in children. Also, poor standing or sitting posture does not increase your risk of scoliosis.

Symptoms to Look Out For
Scoliosis affects both infants and adults.

Symptoms in adults include:
- The head is slightly lopsided
- Asymmetrical shape of the ribcage
- One side of the hip is more prominent than the other
- One shoulder appears to be higher than the other
- Body leaning to one side
- Uneven length of the legs

Symptoms in infants include:
- A bulge can be seen on one side of the chest
- Baby tends to lie curved to one side
- Babies with severe scoliosis experience shortness of breathing and chest pain due to heart and lung problems

Treatment for Scoliosis
While surgery may be required to correct severe curvature of the spine, mild cases of scoliosis do not necessarily require surgical intervention. However, the curvature of the spine can be corrected using a combination of a brace and physiotherapy in Scarborough.

Physiotherapy
A certified physiotherapist will recommend certain exercises to strengthen and stretch your back to reduce pain. Being proactive also helps slow down the curvature of the spine.

Back Braces
Although back braces are not often used in adults with scoliosis, it helps support the spine and provide pain relief. Back braces are a great non-invasive alternative to surgery.

Surgery
A surgical procedure is not necessary for adults. However, you may consider undergoing surgery for the following reasons:
- Severe curvature of the spine or scoliosis getting worse
- Worsening pain despite treatment
- Spinal nerves getting irritated or squashed

If you are suffering from scoliosis, talk to a certified healthcare professional, such as a general practitioner or a physiotherapist, for a thorough health assessment.





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