Scoliosis is defined as an abnormal curvature of the spine. It is a difficult condition to live with and cannot be cured, however, it is treatable. Severe scoliosis can be life-changing as well as life-threatening for patients. Mild to moderate scoliosis can still cause significant discomfort.
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It is very difficult to live with indeed. However, informing oneself about a condition can prepare us better for it! So come along as we explore the condition of scoliosis, and learn how to best manage it.
Scoliosis usually shows signs during the pre-puberty growth spurt. It may even begin to manifest in younger adolescents. It, however, most commonly appears at around age 10 years. Scoliosis has been known to be more common in females and is also hereditary. This means that scoliosis can be passed down from parent to child.
Scoliosis is a common condition in India with over 100 lakh cases per year. With GoMedii, it is possible for you to get ahead of this condition. Read on for more information about scoliosis and possible treatment options.
What Are The Types of Scoliosis?
There are a few various types of scoliosis. However, among these types, Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common. Below are the types of scoliosis:
In this case, there is no known cause for the scoliosis condition. This scoliosis accounts for 80% of scoliosis cases, a majority of which is in adolescent girls.
This condition develops prior to birth, during the baby’s back development. It may be noticeable during birth, or may not show apparent symptoms until the child’s teenage years. The main cause of this condition is problems with the baby’s vertebrae. A birth defect or injury may cause the spine development to suffer.
Certain neurological disorders can lead to scolioses, such as a spinal cord injury or cerebral palsy. The disorder can lead to damage to the spine’s supporting muscles. This makes it so the muscles can’t support the spine, causing it to curve.
This scoliosis occurs with age due to wear and tear in the discs and joints of the spine.
There also exist specific medical terms for types of scoliosis. In this terminology:
- Kyphosis is when the curve of the spine is bent forward, or inward.
- Lordosis is when the spine is bent backward, or outward.
The spine may also deviate and form twists towards the sides. Doctors may describe this curvature as a ‘C’ or an ‘S’ shape curve.
The severity of scoliosis can be divided into:
- Mild Scoliosis: 10-20 degrees deviation in the spine
- Moderate Scoliosis: 20-50 degrees curvature in the spine
- Severe Scoliosis: Over 50 degrees curvature in the spine
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What Are The Signs and Symptoms of Scoliosis?
The most visible and common symptom of scoliosis is a curvature of the spine. However, that may only be the case in more moderate to severe cases. In other cases of scoliosis, it may be more difficult to notice it. The curvature in the spine happens slowly and takes time.
Although it might not be immediately visible, patients may observe symptoms such as:
- Clothing fitting differently
- Uneven waistline
- Trousers longer on one leg
- Ribs noticeably visible on one side
- Back stiffness
- Pain and numbness in the legs
In severe cases of scoliosis, the twisting of ribs and vertebrae may push against the chest, making it difficult to breathe. This is because severe scoliosis may make it difficult for the heart and lungs to function properly. This leads to symptoms such as shortness of breath and chest pain.
How Is Scoliosis Diagnosed?
Diagnosing scoliosis involves a physical exam where the doctor asks the patient to bend from the waist. This provides a clear view of the spine on the back, allowing the doctor to check for curvatures. If the curvature is visible, further testing will involve imaging tests such as an X-ray.
An MRI may be used to rule out certain conditions, such as a tumor.
How Is Scoliosis Treated?
Finalizing treatment depends on a few individual-specific factors in the case of each patient. However, there are two main courses of action for scoliosis treatment. Those are bracing and surgery.
The factors on which scoliosis treatment depends include:
- The patient’s age
- If the patient is still growing or not
- The severity and amount of curvature
- The type of scoliosis
The best option of treatment varies from individual to individual. That is why the above factors are important for the doctors to consider prior to pursuing a treatment for the patient. Treatments include:
For patients still in the process of growing, a brace can help significantly. The brace stops the curve from worsening as the child grows. Children must wear the brace for 16-23 hours a day at the least.
They are invisible under the patient’s clothes and they don’t inhibit children from everyday activities. Braces aren’t meant to cure or reverse the condition. The purpose of the brace is to stop the condition from worsening over time. This is also why bracing is preferred as a treatment in cases where it has been caught early.
Braces are as effective the longer they’re worn. They’re discontinued after the bones are done growing.
Spinal Fusion Surgery
Severe scoliosis can be prevented with scoliosis surgery. This can also be done to lessen the curvature of the spine. In spinal fusion, multiple vertebrae are fused together, so that they are unable to move independently. This helps in reinforcing and straightening the spine. A bone-like material is placed between the fused vertebrae. Then, rods, screws, or wires hold the spine in place while the bone material fuses.
If scoliosis progresses fast in a patient who is still growing, a lengthening rod can be installed that holds the spine straight. The rod can then be lengthened every few months as the patient grows.
Supportive Care for Scoliosis Management
Scoliosis can be difficult to deal with, also due to the fact that it is a condition that can cause considerable pain. Certain care can help patients manage the condition better, by keeping themselves in overall better health.
These methods will not heal scoliosis or reverse it. However, they can help manage the discomfort.
Exercise is important to maintain wellness. Also, fitness can help patients be more flexible, and manage the pain of scoliosis.
Certain OTC pain medication can help patients in their day-to-day. Talk to your doctor about medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Chiropractic therapy can help manage scoliosis pain and increase the patient’s flexibility. However, patients must be careful and consult a certified chiropractor with experience with scoliosis.
Scoliosis is painful and difficult to manage the situation. Not only that, it can be mentally frustrating. The condition isn’t curable and may even be hereditary. However, the condition can be managed with treatment. Patients with early onset of scoliosis can go forward to lead almost normal lives.
Patients managing moderate to severe scoliosis can seek supportive assistance such as talking to a support group or an expert. With diligent treatment and management, scoliosis can be lived with. Not only that, but patients can also expect a close to normal and painless life post-treatment and care.
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