What is scoliosis?
The most extensively used scoliosis definition in medical dictionaries currently is this: Scoliosis is a medical condition that involves the sideway curvative of the person’s spine. Typically, the curve takes the C- or S-shape form.
Simply put, when examined, a normal person’s back takes the form of a straight line running down the middle. When a person has scoliosis, this straight line is curved. Scoliosis most often occurs during a person’s growth spurt just right before hitting puberty and can be mild and stay stable over time, while others get progressively worse and show a significant degree of curvature. In the case of mild scoliosis, it does not affect anything but the affected person’s posture and gait.
On the other hand, severe scoliosis may compromise some of the person’s organs, especially in the lungs, and is more than likely to interfere with his/her breathing as the amount of space in his/her chest is significantly reduced. Pain is not typically present during scoliosis except in the most severe cases. Therefore, scoliosis is not easily visible in most persons affected, especially in the case of mild scoliosis. More severe cases of scoliosis will produce a noticeably different posture and have a little lean on the shoulders and hips in the people it affects.
Now on to the question, what exactly causes scoliosis? Doctors and scientists in the medical field are still asking this question, as they consider scoliosis an idiopathic condition, which means that in most cases of scoliosis, the exact reasons for why a person’s spine curves are unknown.
This idiopathic scoliosis occurs in about 80% of cases. The other 20%, however, do have clear scoliosis causes, and they are classified into two categories, namely:
1. Structural Scoliosis – this is the medical term for scoliosis where the curve of the spine is relatively rigid and hence cannot be reversed. Any of the following factors can cause scoliosis of this type:
- Congenital Disorders such as Spina Bifida, which affects the formation of bones and gets progressively worse during puberty
- Disorders of the neural system as well as the muscles such as Marfan’s Syndrome, Muscular Dystrophy, and Cerebral Palsy
- Past Injuries, Trauma, and Infections near your spine
- Tumors near your spine
2. Scoliosis – this type of scoliosis, on the other hand, has a spine that, although is curved, remains fully functional. This type of scoliosis is caused by something minor like a spasm or muscle pain, and in most cases, a difference in leg length that produces an uneven posture, so it is reversible. Inflammations like appendicitis can also cause this type of scoliosis. The good thing about non-structural scoliosis is that scoliosis itself will disappear once these underlying problems are treated.
As with most illnesses, some factors can increase your scoliosis risks. Some of the known factors that increase your risk of scoliosis development are as follows:
- Genetics – Having a family history of scoliosis poses a reasonable probability of having the condition yourself too.
- Age – Teenagers aged 10-15 have a higher scoliosis risk than most adults, as this is when a growth spurt occurs, and scoliosis is most likely to develop in people.
- Gender – Both boys and girls have an equal chance of acquiring the condition, but with girls, the likelihood that their scoliosis will worsen and eventually require treatment is ten times more than it is with boys.
- Congenital Disorders – having congenital disorders, such as the one mentioned above (spina bifida), can increase a person’s scoliosis risk.
- Neurological and Genetic Disorders – people with neurological disorders such as Marfan Syndrome, Down Syndrome, and Cerebral Palsy can also be more susceptible to having scoliosis.
- Previous Infections related to the spine
Like other illnesses, scoliosis can have significant complications if not treated immediately. Some of these complications are listed below:
- Permanent Deformity – there will be permanent deformity of your spine once scoliosis gets progressively worse to the point where it is difficult to correct.
- Spine or Nerve Damage – an uncorrected curve due to scoliosis can result in spinal or nerve damage as the nerves continually become out of place.
- Breathing Problems – as scoliosis gets worse, it compresses down on a person’s chest and effectively decreases the amount of space in that person’s lungs, reducing his/her breathing capacity.
- Lower Back Pain
- Persistent Pain
Click here to read about Symptoms.