Scoliosis occurs when the spine has an abnormal lateral curvature. All people have a small natural deviation in the spine, however, when it is too pronounced, scoliosis is suffered. In some cases, the curvature deforms the S-shaped column, while in others it does the C-shaped.
The causes of spinal deviation are usually unknown and vary depending on the type of scoliosis that occurs and the people who suffer from it. Women are more likely to suffer from this pathology than men. In stages of development and bone growth, such as childhood and adolescence, the curvature is usually aggravated.
Evaluate your symptoms
In most cases, scoliosis has no symptoms beyond the curvature that occurs in the spine. The main signs have more to do with the irregularities and deformities that the bone structure presents because of having its axis deviated, although sometimes symptoms that hinder the patient's quality of life may appear:
- Difference in shoulder and hip height : Scoliosis can cause one shoulder or one side of the hip to be taller than another, leading to deformities.
- Back pain.
- Feeling of having a loaded back : Some people suffering from scoliosis may experience tiredness and heaviness in the spine when they are standing or sitting for a long time. Although it is common that the symptoms of scoliosis do not aggravate the quality of life of people, there may be some complications derived from this pathology:
- Permanent pain caused by wear of the vertebrae.
- Spinal nerve damage caused by an uncorrected curvature.
- Low self-esteem, especially in some cases of children who are forced to wear a corset.
- Respiratory problems that occur in cases of severe scoliosis.
Preventing scoliosis essentially involves attending routine pediatric examinations.
There are different types of scoliosis that are defined, both by the origin of the deviation, and by the type of person who suffers it, so different classifications can be made based on different factors:
According to the duration of the disease
- Structural: It occurs when the spine has a permanent curvature. The most common cause in
these cases is usually a disease, a birth defect, a stroke or an infection.
- Non-structural or functional: The spine has a normal structure but suffers a temporary curvature that can be corrected by taking the correct measures.
According to the patient’s age
The idiopathic scoliosis is that the cause is unknown. It usually occurs in periods of rapid growth and development and is classified according to the moment of its appearance:
- Infantile scoliosis: It is the one that appears in children of three years or less.
- Juvenile scoliosis: It occurs among children aged four to 10 years.
- Teen scoliosis: It is the one suffered by adolescents aged 11 to 18 years.
Depending on the cause of the disease
On other occasions, the origin of the spinal curvature is known and its causes can be identified, giving rise to two types of scoliosis :
- Neuromuscular scoliosis: The curvature is caused by a pathology of the nervous system that affects the muscles, such as muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy or polio.
- Congenital scoliosis: In this case the spine is curved at birth, which is caused because the baby’s vertebrae or ribs have not formed properly.
The evolution and prognosis of scoliosis varies depending on factors such as the cause that causes it and the degree of curvature. In the case of children, the greater the curve of the spine, the more problems will develop in adult life. People whose scoliosis is caused by a disease that affects the nervous system will need a complete diagnosis to identify the degree to which the disease is diverting the spine and check if surgery is needed. Congenital scoliosis has many complications and usually requires one or several surgeries.
To identify if the patient undergoes scoliosis, the specialist will perform several physical tests that go through controlling the degree of curvature of the spine. In the examination, the patient must bend down so that his spine is more noticeable, which is known as the bow test or Adams test. The doctor will check the leveling of the shoulders and the degree of inclination of the pelvis. In addition to the physical test, radiological tests will be performed to check the deviation, since, in many cases, the condition of the spine is worse than that seen through a physical examination. A scoliometer, a curved level filled with a liquid with a metal ball inside, can also be used for
diagnosis. The instrument is placed on the patient's back when crouched (Adams test), so that if there is unevenness and asymmetry, the ball will move towards one side.
Treatment depends on factors such as the severity of the curvature, the origin, or the age of the patient. In the case of idiopathic scoliosis, it is normal that no type of treatment or intervention is necessary, although the specialist will follow up to check its evolution. If scoliosis occurs in children who are of age of growth and bone development, the specialist may recommend the use of a corset, which will keep the back fixed and prevent the spine from deviating further. A corset or brace is not usually recommended when scoliosis is caused by a disease of the
When scoliosis gets worse quickly or the degree of curvature is quite severe, you may need to go to surgery. In these cases, the surgeon will introduce metal rods to fix the vertebrae and correct the curve that produces scoliosis. After such surgery, the patient will need to wear a corset for a while to avoid sudden and forced movements, at least until the bones heal.