What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a disease of the spine which affects about 2% – 3% of the pediatric population and up to 30% of adults worldwide. The basic meaning of scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine (levoscoliosis – is a curve to the left, dextroscoliosis – is a curve to the right). The general appearance of the spine of a person with scoliosis is in the shape of an “S” or “C”, but with x-ray or MRI you will certainly see a more complex three-dimensional deformity similar to a spiral staircase. A diagnosis of scoliosis can be described as Cobb angle (curvature) exceeding 10 degrees with a rotation of the vertebrae. Cobb angle exceeding 25 degrees are considered significant and an angle exceeding 40 degrees is viewed as severe.

Scoliosis Causes

There are two main classifications: Firstly there is idiopathic which means the cause is not clear and contains about 80% of cases. In the remaining 20% of cases there are more obvious causes such as: spinal cord injuries causing paralysis, bone deformity, legs are of different length, congenital, neuromuscular disorders, degenerative diseases etc. Scoliosis causes remain a mystery to the medical community, and there are many theories that have not yet been tested. One theory being tested is a genetic connection, which is why it’s recommended if family member is diagnosed with a scoliosis, then the whole family be tested. Still at the testing stage, a genetic test has been developed by scientists at Sainte-Justine Hospital in Montreal and it looks very promising for genetic screening of individuals at risk.

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Scoliosis Symptoms

Scoliosis can reduce quality of life by restricting activities, cause scoliosis pain and suffering and damage to the lung and heart function. There are various scoliosis symptoms and signs:

  • Shoulder heights are uneven
  • One prominent shoulder blade
  • Rib cage height not equal
  • The appearance of prominent hip
  • Unequal pelvis
  • Body leans to one side or the other
  • Uneven distance between the arm and pelvis

Scoliosis pain may not develop until it is well established and includes: back pain, pain around the ribs, fatigue and breathing problems along with other symptoms.

Scoliosis Test

A normal spine is a relatively straight line from the bottom of neck to the buttocks. If you suspect a child may have scoliosis, the view from the back shows one or more curves that are not natural. A test often used by doctors is a bending test (Adam’s forward bending test). To perform the test, the patient is asked to lean forward, have feet together, and bend to 90 degrees at hips. The examiner can easily see from this vantage point any trunk asymmetry or abnormal curvature of the spinal column. If the test is positive; a confirmation by X-ray or MRI is needed and is used to determine the severity of the disease and treatment options for the patient.

Is there a Scoliosis cure?

No complete cure has been found, but there has been major advancements and break through in the way the disease is treated and managed through non-surgery and surgical procedures. Some treatment options include: SpineCor brace (soft brace), chiropractic care, physical therapy, exercise and more. Even with no cure many scoliosis patients live a relatively pain free and normal life with proper treatment of their disease.