With over three million cases per year, scoliosis is a very common condition. Scoliosis is defined as any abnormal lateral curvature in the spine, which should otherwise be a normally vertically straight line.

When looking at a person with scoliosis from behind, the spine appears curved in one of two different ways:

  • Levoscoliosis – The spine curves to the left side, forming a C-shape
  • Dextroscoliosis – The spine curves to the right side, forming a backwards C-shape, or it can form another curve, forming an S-shape.

In addition, when looking at the back of a scoliosis sufferer from a side view, the upper back will show a roundness and the lower back an inward curve (also known as swayback).

What are the symptoms of scoliosis?

Many cases of scoliosis may not display any symptoms. When it does, symptoms may include:

  • Backaches or lower back pain
  • Uneven hips or shoulders (one shoulder appears higher than the other)
  • Spinal fatigue after sitting or standing for long amounts of time
  • Spinal curves

What causes scoliosis?

  • The causes of scoliosis will vary based on which one you may have. There are four kinds of scoliosis, each classified by cause. These include:
  • Idiopathic scoliosis – Idiopathic (“unknown pathology”) scoliosis is the most common form of scoliosis, but no concrete cause has yet to be determined. However, strong evidence has been found that idiopathic scoliosis is hereditary.
  • Congenital scoliosis – Congenital scoliosis is caused by a bone abnormality or malfunction that is present at birth.
  • Degenerative scoliosis – Degenerative scoliosis can by caused by osteoporosis, a traumatic injury or failed back surgery.
  • Neuromuscular scoliosis – Neuromuscular scoliosis is often caused by conditions like spina bifida or cerebral palsy that involve abnormalities in the muscles or nerves.

How is scoliosis diagnosed?

Diagnosing scoliosis usually starts with noticing any abnormalities in the spine during a school screening exam or a normal check-up with a physician. Some signs could be uneven shoulders or asymmetry in the waist, stature leaning to one side or one shoulder blade protrudes more than the other. Once one of these signs has been detected, a physician can perform a physical bone exam and X-ray to assess the severity of the condition.

Treatment options available for scoliosis

Based on the severity and type of scoliosis you are diagnosed with, your physician will be able to determine the best treatment options available to you. The most common forms of treatment are:

  • Braces – Braces are best for treating younger patients who have a spinal curve measuring between 25 and 40 degrees. Bracing helps to halt the curve progression while the bones in adolescents are still maturing.
  • Surgery – Surgery is often recommended to those who have a spinal curvature beyond 40 to 50 degrees. Implants are used to correct some of the curvature by holding the spine in the correct position until a bone graft can be placed. The bone graft creates spinal fusion where the vertebrae are joined together permanently. Fusions are not recommended for adolescent patients because it can affect growth. A brace is necessary after the procedure.

If you or someone you love would like to speak with a professional about scoliosis, call the pain specialists at Cedar Rapids Pain Associates today at (319) 540-8251 to schedule your next appointment.