There are numerous different types of scoliosis. For the purposes of this article, we will concentrate on the 5 most common types that represent approximately 95% of the total.
Idiopathic Scoliosis which is the most common form of scoliosis and represents 80% of the total. This category is broken down into four sub sections.
Congenital Scoliosis is rare form of scoliosis. Congenital means you are born with it and will develop curves in infancy. This type of scoliosis represents approximately 10% of the total.
Neuromuscular Scoliosis is caused by a neurologic disorder of the central nervous system or muscles. Examples of these disorders include: Cerebral Palsy (CP), Syringomyelia, spinal cord trauma and more. This type of scoliosis represents 5-7% of the total.
Functional Scoliosis or non-structural scoliosis is when the spine is normal but other parts of the body are causing the curvature of the spine. Examples could be secondary to a short leg, postural changes and muscle spasms.
Degenerative scoliosis, also called adult scoliosis or De Novo is the curvature of the spine left or right normally and manly occurs in people over the age of 40. Degenerative scoliosis is caused by the degeneration of the spinal joints (also called zygopophysial or facet joints) and discs. These joints and discs are needed for mobility, so when the cartilage erodes the spine loses mobility and pain will begin. Degenerative scoliosis has a slow progression of 1 -2 degrees per year and can not be cured, but the progression can be slowed or stopped with treatment.
The term thoracolumbar scoliosis is often mentioned in medical documents to classify a certain area of curvature of the spine in scoliosis patients. Thoracolumbar is the area between the upper back (thoracic spine) and lower back (lumbar spine). Scoliosis can occur just in the thoracic spine or just in the lumbar spine. When a scoliosis curvature occurs between both the thoracic and lumbar spine, the classification is called a thoracolumbar scoliosis.
The term convex scoliosis is another medical term that can be used to describe the types of scoliosis a person may have. Convex means curving out or bulging out where concave would be the opposite. A radiologist report may include a phrase of convex scoliosis to the right side which means the spine is positioned to the right side of the body.
Kyphoscoliosis is a spinal condition that both kyphosis and scoliosis is occurring at same time. Kyphosis occurs in the upper back (thoracic spine) as the spine points forward from the body (side or lateral view). It is commonly referred to as a hunchback, Dowager’s or “granny hump”. Some causes of kyphosis are: Scheuermann’s disease, inflammatory diseases of the spine, compression of the vertebrae (osteoporosis), or degenerative disc disease. Scoliosis is the curvature of the spine to the left or right side of the body. Symptoms of kyphoscoliosis are back pain, hunching of the back with a left or right curve of the spine and problems breathing.
Mild scoliosis diagnosis should not be cause for alarm, but it is something that needs to be monitored by an expert in scoliosis. Monitoring is important because a mild scoliosis can progress into a more serious problem. Treatment of mild scoliosis varies depending on the patient’s particular situation. Possible treatments: wait and see approach the curve will disappear on its own, visiting a chiropractor to have regular adjustments and measurements taken, exercise to strength the muscles around the spine, or a scoliosis brace.
There are many types of scoliosis, so knowing the specific type and severity is the first step in the diagnosis of scoliosis as each type of scoliosis will have its own set of treatment protocols.