Understanding Scoliosis and Ways to Treat It

Oct 09, 2023

Scoliosis is a medical disorder that causes an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine, frequently resulting in an "S" or "C" appearance. Scoliosis can develop at any age, but it is most typically diagnosed around adolescence. 

Scoliosis can lead to an uneven distribution of weight on the spine, potentially causing pain, discomfort, and other health issues.

What is Scoliosis?

The cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spines have normal curvature in the "sagittal" plane. These natural curves situate the head over the pelvis and act as shock absorbers during movement, distributing mechanical stress.

What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is commonly characterized as the curvature of the spine in the "coronal" (frontal) plane. Instead of the spine appearing straight when viewed from the back, it may curve to the side. The curvature can vary in severity, and it may affect different parts of the spine. 

While the degree of curvature is measured in the coronal plane, scoliosis is a three-dimensional problem that involves the following planes:

  • Axial Plane
  • Coronal Plane
  • Sagittal Plane

Causes of Scoliosis

The exact cause of scoliosis is often unknown and can be classified into two main categories:

1. Idiopathic Scoliosis:

This is the most common kind of scoliosis, accounting for around 80% of all cases. Idiopathic scoliosis develops without a known underlying cause. 

It is further categorized into:

  1. Infantile Idiopathic Scoliosis
  2. Juvenile Idiopathic Scoliosis
  3. Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis

2. Non-Idiopathic Scoliosis:

An underlying problem, such as congenital anomalies, neuromuscular issues, or connective tissue disorders, causes this type of scoliosis.

Scoliosis Symptoms and Diagnosis

The symptoms of scoliosis vary widely, and some individuals may not experience any symptoms at all.

Scoliosis Symptoms and Diagnosis

Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Uneven shoulders or waist
  • One shoulder blade appears more prominent
  • Uneven hips
  • Leaning to one side
  • Back pain or discomfort
  • Fatigue or discomfort after prolonged standing or sitting

Scoliosis is often diagnosed via a physical examination, medical history review, and imaging testing, like X-rays. The Cobb angle measurement is used to quantify the degree of curvature, which helps in determining the severity of the problem.

Treatment Options

Scoliosis treatment is determined by various criteria, including the patient's age, the degree of curvature, the origin of scoliosis, and overall health. The treatment strives to include preventing the curvature from progressing, alleviating discomfort, and enhancing the patient's quality of life.

Treatment options include:

1. Observation:

In some cases of scoliosis, especially in children who are still growing, regular monitoring to follow the course of the curvature may be suggested.

2. Bracing:

A brace can be suggested for moderate curvature or when the patient is still growing. By providing pressure to the spine, braces serve to prevent future curvature growth. Individual conditions will determine the type of brace and its duration of usage.

3. Physical Therapy and Exercises:

Physical therapy, such as chiropractic treatment, can help restore posture, strengthen muscles, and relieve scoliosis pain. Specific muscle groups can be targeted with tailored workout programs.

4. Surgery:

Scoliosis in severe situations can require surgical intervention to rectify the curvature. Spinal fusion is a surgical treatment in which the afflicted vertebrae are fused together to prevent future curvature progression.

When deciding on treatment choices, the doctor will take the following variables into account:

  • Sex
  • The severity of the curve
  • Curve position
  • Bone maturity

Living with Scoliosis

Living with scoliosis involves managing the condition through various lifestyle adjustments and self-care practices.

Living with Scoliosis

1. Maintaining Good Posture:

Practicing proper posture can help alleviate discomfort and prevent further curvature progression. Ergonomic chairs and supportive cushions can be used to support the spine while sitting.

2. Regular Exercise:

Engaging in regular physical activity, under the guidance of a primary care professional, can help strengthen muscles, improve flexibility, and manage pain.

3. Nutritional Support:

A balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D is important for bone health. Adequate nutrition supports overall spinal health and can contribute to the effectiveness of treatment.

4. Emotional Support:

Scoliosis can impact body image and self-esteem, particularly in adolescents. Seeking support from family, friends, or mental health professionals can help address emotional challenges.

Early detection, precise diagnosis, and appropriate treatment can considerably improve the quality of life for those with scoliosis. Individuals with scoliosis can enjoy full and active lives while efficiently managing their illness. Reach out to primary healthcare providers via Access Health Care Physicians to learn more about this. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Only surgery – a spinal fusion — will straighten out the spine, but it will not be completely straight.

The majority of individuals with scoliosis can lead regular lives and participate in most activities, including exercise and sports. The disease rarely causes other health issues.

While there is no reversing scoliosis, it can be properly managed and treated. As a progressive condition, the most essential condition-related decision you will make is selecting the most feasible treatment plan.

Congenital, neuromuscular, adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, and adult de novo scoliosis.

Backbends, gymnastics, high jumps, dancing maneuvers (particularly in ballet), and specific yoga positions that repeatedly extend your thoracic spine could worsen the condition.