Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments of Scoliosis
This video animation will help you better understand scoliosis, a condition in which the spine curves in ways it shouldn’t, giving it the shape of an “S” or a “C” when looked at from the back.
We all have natural curves in our back which can be seen when the spine is viewed from the side; those are the lordotic and kyphotic curves that you can see in the left-hand illustration below.
In the right-hand illustration, you can see that the spine is supposed to be straight when looked at from the back. However, for people with scoliosis, the spine can curve from side to side, and this abnormal spinal curvature can lead to a variety of pains and growth abnormalities.
The condition most commonly affects young girls; however, boys and adults may also be affected. Understanding the causes and symptoms of scoliosis, and the options for treating it, can help make the condition more manageable.
In this video, you will learn about:
- the many causes of scoliosis: In children, scoliosis may be caused by a number of factors, including growth spurts or certain disorders, like cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy. The condition may also be congenital (present at birth); this usually results due to a malformation of the child’s spine between the third and sixth week of pregnancy. In adults, scoliosis may be caused by conditions such as osteoporosis, bone degeneration, or spinal compression fractures.
- mild and severe symptoms of scoliosis: Symptoms of scoliosis can range in severity, depending on the extent of the spine curvature. Milder cases of scoliosis may result in slight physical abnormalities (a child may lean slightly to 1 side, or may have 1 shoulder that is higher than the other). People with severe cases of scoliosis may suffer from pain, trouble walking, numbness in the body, breathing troubles, and digestive problems.
- scoliosis treatment options: Treatment for scoliosis depends heavily on the cause of your condition, the severity of the curve and what part of your spine it affects, and whether your body is still growing. Many people with idiopathic scoliosis (the cause of the condition is unknown) will not require treatment. For children who have curves that are greater than 20° and less than 40°, a back brace may be recommended. Back braces are generally only helpful if your spine still has some growing to do. Other scoliosis treatment options include physical therapy, stretching exercises, and custom-made shoes and inserts.
- when to consider surgery: Surgery for scoliosis is usually only recommended for severe curves (curves greater than 40°). If your condition is causing extreme pain or a severe physical deformity, or if it might lead to more serious heart and breathing problems, your doctor may suggest that you consider surgical procedures. Make sure you ask as many questions as you need to in order to understand the recommended procedure, possible complications, and recovery period.
If you’d like to learn more about scoliosis after watching the above animation, visit our Scoliosis Center.
- Scoliosis. National Center for Biotechnology Information Web site. National Institutes of Health. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002221/ Updated September 21, 2011. Accessed September 18, 2012.