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Scoliosis – the most important information

Scoliosis is a condition characterized by an abnormal position of the spine and its curvature. The correct shape of the spine is curved at the top towards the shoulder and at the lower back. If your spine bends into an “S” or “C” shape, you may have scoliosis. Scoliosis is often diagnosed in children. It is the reason for unevenly loaded schoolbag, incorrect position at the computer, carrying a backpack on one shoulder. Find out more about scoliosis and how it can be treated.

X-ray scoliosis

Scoliosis – division

The largest category of scoliosis is idiopathic scoliosis. These are the cases where the doctor cannot pinpoint the cause of the disease. It is mainly divided according to the age of the affected person.

When doctors can pinpoint the cause of scoliosis, it is classified into:

congenital – the curvature is visible after birth;
neurological – abnormalities on the part of the nervous system cause the spine to curve.

Scoliosis is also divided into structural and non-structural. In structural scoliosis, another disease, trauma or congenital defect is responsible for the curvature of the spine. It is permanent. Unstructured scoliosis is temporary and can be ‘fixed’ with appropriate exercise.

Symptoms of scoliosis

Symptoms depend on the degree of scoliosis. The characteristic symptoms of scoliosis include:

unevenly arranged shoulder blades (one higher, the other lower)
one shoulder is more protruding
unevenly positioned hips
breathing problems (reduced area in the chest)
back pain

What causes scoliosis?

Often times, a doctor cannot determine one specific cause. Another condition may be the cause. These include, for example:

cerebral palsy
muscular dystrophy
spine injuries
spine infections

Scoliosis also has a genetic cause – if it occurs in a child’s parents, the child is more at risk. Scoliosis is more common in the female sex.

Scoliosis – diagnosis

The first step to diagnosis is visual examination. Your doctor may also order spine imaging tests. He may also ask you to do simple exercises to check the alignment of the different sections of the spine.

Spine imaging studies include X-ray, MRI scan, CT scan, bone scan.

Scoliosis treatment methods

Treatment depends on many elements. The most important of them are: the stage of scoliosis, age and whether the cause of its formation is known. The main treatment options are spine brace, exercise, and in a more advanced stage, surgery. In some cases, an orthosis may be needed. It should be worn even 24 hours a day until growth stops.

Surgical operations are recommended for curvature greater than 40 degrees. The standard surgery is a spine fusion. It is a bone transplant method. The circles are joined by rods and bolts. The graft is made of real bones or bone-like material. The bars support the spine to keep it upright. The bolts, on the other hand, hold the bars. Unfortunately, this procedure may be associated with risks, for example:

excessive bleeding;
pain in the spine and back;
heavy healing;
nerve damage.

Scoliosis can also cause back and spine pain. Then it is worth using the available therapies that minimize pain. However, this will not cure scoliosis. These methods include massage, hydrotherapy and electrostimulation.

The doctor or physiotherapist can also choose appropriate exercises that will increase your mobility and improve your well-being.

Medicines

In case of pain, it is worth reaching for over-the-counter painkillers available at any pharmacy (paracetamol, ibuprofen). They also fight inflammation. In more serious stages, your doctor may recommend chiroplasty. It helps with pain and increases flexibility.

Living with scoliosis is not easy. It can be full of pain, long rehabilitation, problems in personal and professional life. That is why it is worth using the advice of a psychologist or support groups. We will find help and people with a similar problem there. It is possible to live with scoliosis, and systematic rehabilitation will significantly improve the quality of life.

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