Scoliosis refers to the medical condition resulting from the abnormal curvature of the spine. The side to side curving of the spine results in uneven musculature on either sides of the spine, a prominent shoulder blade and very prominent ribs. It may even result in uneven hips and a visible difference in the length of the limbs.
Though mild scoliosis is common in both the sexes, girls tend to suffer more due to the disease as compared to boys and are at a higher risk of worsening of the spinal curve in the absence of treatment. The condition generally affects adolescents and adults and children older than 10 years of age.
However, it may affect even the younger kids, with some of the affected ones still being in their infancy. Though 25% of the cases are attributed to genetics or neuromuscular diseases, around 65% of the cases appear without any known cause, lasting throughout the lifetime and at times, severely affecting the quality of life.
Appendicitis or muscle spasms may result in one leg being shorter than the other one. The condition usually results in temporary symptoms of scoliosis. However, the condition has no effect on the structure of the spine and may resolve on its own with the passage of time.
This form of the disease results due to birth defects that present themselves as vertebral anomalies. The condition may result either due to an incompletely formed vertebra or due to the improper segmentation of the vertebrae. A less common form of congenital malformation, referred to as Chiari malformation causes severe neurological defects that present themselves as connective tissue weakness and extreme joint hypermobility.
Neuromuscular And Genetic Diseases
Neuromuscular diseases such as cerebral palsy, spinal bifida and spinal muscular atrophy result in problems with the nervous control and movement of the muscles. Muscular dystrophy is a genetic disease that results in progressive weakness and degeneration of the voluntary muscles. Though the condition commonly affects the skeletal muscles, it may affect other involuntary muscles and some major organs as well.
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The most severe form of the disease usually crops up during adolescence and is almost always fatal, whereas mild, slowly progressing forms of the disease rarely present themselves during childhood, affecting individuals and presenting symptoms only during the middle age or even later on.
The gradual damage and degeneration of the spine due to ageing can result in destabilization of the spinal structure, often resulting in an abnormally curved spine. Presence of other medical conditions such as osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis and motor neurone disease increases the risk of damage to the nerves and muscles closer to the spine and weakening of the bones that make up the spine. More serious conditions such as paralysis can result in complete loss of muscle function in the spine.
Most of the cases of scoliosis occur without any apparent reason. Though they might have a genetic link, they are usually believed to be a result of multiple unknown factors.
An injury to the spine, presence of certain infections and/or tumours might also be responsible for aggravating the symptoms of scoliosis. The idiopathic scoliosis that has a late onset is self-limiting and stops progressing further after a certain stage, whereas the rarer forms of the disease are potentially more dangerous and may present further complications. Identifying the cause of the condition can help in better management of the disease and provides an insight to possible treatment options.
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