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Scoliosis: The Basic Facts

 Scoliosis is a deformity seen in child in which the spine gets bent. In this type of deformity, the spine bends laterally from one side to the other in an S or C shape. There is a natural curve in the spine from front to back form. Sometimes, there could be horizontal twist of the spine. The earlier it is treated, the better it is for your child. Around two percent of the population around the world has scoliosis. The disease has seen to be running in a family and around 20 percent of the family members can get this disease. The common form of the disease is known as idiopathic scoliosis. It accounts for 85 percent of the total cases of the disease

What Causes Scoliosis

The cause of scoliosis as seen in childhood is not known. This has led it to get the name idiopathic scoliosis. In some cases, a child born with the abnormality of a vertebral bone can be inflicted by scoliosis. Many a times, scoliosis results in some other condition like imbalance of the muscles, like muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy. There could also be problems with bones and the connective tissues, giving Marfan syndrome.

Sometimes, the onset of scoliosis is a result of underlying anomaly like tethered spinal cord, but in most cases the cause is unknown. . It generally affects girls of the age of ten and 14 years at the time of puberty.

 Types of Scoliosis

Scoliosis is generally classified as congenital, idiopathic or as secondary symptom to another condition. The congenital scoliosis is caused by some vertebral anomalies that are there at the time of birth. The idiopathic scoliosis is the common form of the disease and is further classified as infantile, adolescent, juvenile or adult. Scoliosis that develops as secondary symptom is generally found in cerebral palsy or spinal muscular atrophy.

 Symptoms of Scoliosis

Scoliosis generally affects the spine from the age of eight, but generally goes unnoticed. This is due to the fact that the disease rarely causes any problems at this time. Over time, parents generally notice an uneven waist or shoulders and elevated hips which are leaning on one side. With the progression of the disease, there could back, abdominal and limb pain and also restriction of breathing due to distortion of lung cavity.

There is cosmetic deformity in the Scoliosis patient. The pain results as the muscles try to follow the curvature of the spine. Generally, this type of pain occurs in larger curves. With the increase in the curvature of the spine, there are more pressures in some of the areas resulting in the pain. The muscles can seize up resulting in soreness.

The other symptoms of the disease are uneven muscular system of the body on one side of the spine. There is a rib hump along with a shoulder blade getting prominent as a result of turning round of the ribcage in the thoracic scoliosis. The shoulder and hip level gets uneven while in females the breasts get asymmetrical in size. The distance between the arms and body become unequal. The nerve action gets slower. Clothes worn hang unevenly.

 Scoliosis Treatment

There should be complete medical examination of the patient. The back of the child should be examined to find whether it is due to bad posture which can be straightened. There should be an X-ray of the spine to confirm the presence of the disease. If the curvature of the spine is not serious the child can be checked regularly. Most of these children will get better with proper treatment.

Treatment for scoliosis patients comprises observation, bracing and surgery. Bracing is done to prevent the situation getting worse. It must be fixed by a specialist. If the child is in a growing stage, surgery has to be resorted to straighten the spine. There are special program whereby exercises are given to improve posture and function. But these exercises are very rigorous and expensive as well. Also, there is no convincing scientific prove that it may not require surgery in the long run.


In adults, Scoliosis causes problems with as there are back pain and increase obstruction of normal breathing. It is recommended to talk to the doctor before it gets worse.

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