Spine Conditions: Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a spinal condition that causes the spine to curve sideways, forming a C or S shape and leading to back pain or impaired movements. Severe cases of scoliosis may limit normal functionality and even affect breathing. However, most cases of scoliosis are minor in nature. Conditions range from mild to severe and should be monitored case-by-case. According to OrthoInfo, surgery is usually recommended for curves 40° or greater.

Causes of Scoliosis

Not every case of scoliosis has a known cause, but many can be attributed to certain factors such as genetics or birth defects. Disorders, such as cerebral palsy and Marfan syndrome, can lead to scoliosis. Other known, but less common, causes of scoliosis include tumors and infections.

Signs of Scoliosis

While these conditions do not necessarily indicate scoliosis, if one or more of these conditions are present, further testing should be done:

Treating Scoliosis

Scoliosis treatment varies by the severity of the condition. Doctors use x-rays to determine the amount of curvature the spine has undergone.

Mild scoliosis may require no treatment at all. Generally, it is still recommended to check-in with your doctor every 4-6 weeks to ensure the condition hasn’t worsened.

Other cases of scoliosis, where the curvature is prominent, may require more imaging. MRIs can be used in addition to the x-rays for more detail. A child at risk for developing curvature may be given a brace to help realign their spine. This brace can be worn for years, until the child has finished their growth spurt.

Severe cases of scoliosis require surgery to straighten the spine. Surgery may help correct the curve and alleviate pain.

Johns Hopkins Medicine finds there are nearly three million new scoliosis cases each year in the United States alone. Many cases are deemed mild and thus require little treatment. However, scoliosis can be a severely debilitating condition, especially if you don’t act. If you are showing signs of scoliosis, it is best to play it safe and visit a spine specialist, such as an orthopedic surgeon.

Blausen.com staff (2014). “Medical gallery of Blausen Medical 2014”. WikiJournal of Medicine 1 (2). DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 2002-4436. [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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