Scoliosis is a condition about spinal curves. The spine of a person with scoliosis looks more like an “S” or a “C” than a straight line. These curves can make the person’s shoulders, hips, or waist appear irregular. In scoliosis, the spine may rotate, causing one shoulder or trunk muscles to be more conspicuous than the other. Patients may experience a mild case of scoliosis with little pain or spinal deformity. On the contrary, more severe scoliosis may result in pain and disfigurement that may cause difficulties in walking and even breathing.
Scoliosis is a condition whose cause is uncertain, progressing from person to person, responding to different treatments. There are usually many things to ask about, especially in the early days of diagnosis. In this article, Prof. Dr. Ahmet Alanay, one of the esteemed physicians of Acıbadem Hospital, will answer the frequently asked questions about scoliosis treatment. He will clarify the issues that are being wondered by scoliosis patients and their relatives.
What Is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a condition that affects the neuromuscular system, causing the spine to bend in a C or S-shaped curve. About 80 percent of cases are adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS), which affects 2-3 percent of children. It's most common in girls age 10 and older. Your child may not have obvious signs or pain if scoliosis is detected in its early stages.
Before answering the common questions about scoliosis, it is necessary to explain some basic terms and some types of scoliosis.
The Cobb angle is a measure of the spinal curvature in degrees. It helps us to determine what type of scoliosis treatment is necessary. A Cobb angle of 10 degree is regarded as a minimum angulation to define scoliosis.
A healthy spine looks straight from the back and curved from the side. These curves are backward in the upper part of the back (kyphosis) and forwards in the lower part of the back (lordosis). In congenital cases, if the asymmetrical development is to the side, it results in scoliosis. If it is forwards, this results in an increasing kyphosis.
This is considered to be a form of adolescent osteochondrosis of the spine. It affects mostly teenagers and presents significantly worse spinal deformities than postural kyphosis.
What Are the Scoliosis Symptoms?
Only about 10% of people with idiopathic scoliosis have a curve that progresses beyond mild and needs treatment. If that scoliosis progress happens, the deformity becomes more evident to other people and more likely to cause noticeable symptoms.
Changes with walking
When the spine abnormally twists and bends sideways enough, it can cause the hips to be out of alignment. And it usually changes a person’s walk.
Reducing range of motion
The deformity from spinal twisting may increase rigidity, which reduces the spine’s flexibility for bending.
If the spine rotates enough, the rib cage can twist and tighten the space available for the lungs. Bone might push against the lungs and make breathing more difficult.
If curvature becomes severe, back muscles could become more prone to painful spasms.
What Are the Causes of Scoliosis?
There is no evidence that carrying heavy bags, performing certain types of sports, or having a poor posture results scoliosis. There are also no precautions for protecting from it. However, early diagnosis of scoliosis is significant for the treatment process.
These are the possible scoliosis causes:
Scoliosis is thought to be genetic and tends to run in families. However, with each generation, there is a variability of how strongly the genes are expressed, which determines how severe the curve may be.
Adult scoliosis can result in disc degeneration, osteoporosis, or osteomalacia, which is a softening of the bones.
Spinal cord injury
Scoliosis can develop following spinal surgery or trauma that results in a spinal cord injury.
Scoliosis can result from the improper formation of spinal bones during fetal development.
An abnormal nerve or muscle function can result in scoliosis caused due to by abnormalities in neuromuscular function. This includes neuropathic or myopathic disorders.
What Are the Scoliosis Treatment Options?
There are generally 3 treatment options for scoliosis.
We usually offer follow-ups for curves under 20-25 degrees. It consists of follow up at certain intervals, performing sports, and increasing overall physical fitness. In some conditions, children may not desire to make scoliosis exercises at later ages when there is rapid growth. Most children with scoliosis have a mild curve that does not need scoliosis treatment. The doctor will recommend following up every 4 to 6 months to monitor the curve progress of the spine.
This is effective in patients with curves between 20-40 degrees and have growth potential. The possibility of undergoing surgery is lower in patients using braces.
Surgical Scoliosis Treatment
We are often considering the scoliosis surgery as a scoliosis treatment in curves above 40-45 degrees. We are performing surgeries in adolescents and adults who have completed their lung development, correction, and fusion.
In a spinal fusion, we are fusing together the curved vertebrae so that they heal into a single, solid bone. This stops growth completely in the abnormal segment of the spine and prevents the curve from getting worse.
Scoliosis treatment is still under investigation. There is an organization, scoliosis research society, whose specialists are trying to clarify the scoliosis treatment possibilities.
There are many successful hospitals in the world, providing a successful scoliosis treatment plan to the patients from the first day of diagnosis. As one of the leading institutions in Turkey, Acıbadem Hospital provides diagnosis and treatment services at healthcare certifying standards with its high technology and its well-equipped infrastructure.
We, as physicians of Acıbadem, are happy to offer the most successful treatments to our patients in the highest technology environment. Rather than worry about scoliosis, it would help if you started a conscious treatment with a good clinic and qualified doctor that will make you feel better.
This content is reviewed and published by Flymedi Medical Editors in May 28, 2019.