What Is Scoliosis?

woman with Scoliosis

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  • Scoliosis is a musculoskeletal disorder that prompts the spine to curve to the side, and typically affects the chest area and lower section of the back
  • Scoliosis can be classified according to the three degree of scoliosis such as mild, moderate and severe
  • Other complications that can occur among scoliosis patients include persistent pain if there’s wear and tear of the bones, and a higher risk for chronic back pain

Scoliosis is a musculoskeletal disorder that prompts the spine to curve to the side, and typically affects the chest area and lower section of the back.1 Scoliosis can be caused by congenital, developmental or degenerative problems, but most cases are idiopathic, or have no known cause.2 There are three potential risk factors for scoliosis:3,4

  • Age: Signs of scoliosis tend to develop during a growth spurt that occurs before puberty. While people of all ages can have scoliosis, it’s common among children and teenagers.
  • Gender: Women have a higher risk of developing scoliosis compared to men.
  • Genetics: A patient is likely to have close relatives with the same condition.

Different Types of Scoliosis

As mentioned earlier, people of all ages can have scoliosis. These are the types of scoliosis, characterized by the age group that they usually affect:5,6,7,8

  • Infantile idiopathic scoliosis: This disease manifests in infants, beginning from birth. Infantile idiopathic scoliosis can last until the child turns 3 years old.
  • Juvenile idiopathic scoliosis: It occurs in children aged 4 to 10 years old.
  • Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis: This is common in children between 10 to 18 years old. Roughly 4 in 100 adolescents have this type of scoliosis.
  • Degenerative or adult onset scoliosis: As the name implies, this type of scoliosis is common in adults.

Meanwhile, the scoliosis that a patient has can also be classified by checking where the curve appears:9

  • Thoracic scoliosis: Curve is in the upper or middle part of the backbone
  • Lumbar scoliosis: Curve is in the lower region of the spine
  • Thoracolumbar scoliosis: Curve can be located in vertebrae from the upper and lower portions of the spine

Three Degrees of Scoliosis

Apart from these known types of scoliosis, patients can also be classified according to the degree of their scoliosis:10

  • Mild scoliosis: Those with mild scoliosis have Cobb angles ranging from 10 to 25 degrees. There is a significant risk of progression of 22 percent linked to this condition, but if the Cobb angle passes 20 degrees, this risk more than triples to 68 percent.
  • Moderate scoliosis: Cobb angles in moderate scoliosis patients are between 26 to 40 degrees, and a 68 percent chance of progression has been recorded.
  • Severe scoliosis: If the Cobb angle of the curve is above 40 degrees, then the patient might already have severe scoliosis, and this disease has a 90 percent risk of progression.

What Happens If Scoliosis Is Left Untreated?

If left unchecked, scoliosis can worsen and prompt the spinal bones to rotate towards the inner part of the curve. Should the upper portion of the spine become affected, the ribs may crowd together on one side of the body and become widely separated from the other side. The curve can also force the space between the spinal bones to narrow, and raise the possibility that the spinal bones can grow thicker on the outer edge of the curve.11

For patients with severe curves, the misshapen ribs can lessen the amount of air that the lungs can hold. This can cause the heart to work harder to pump blood throughout the compressed lung tissue. Over time, this impairment can lead to heart failure.

Other complications that can occur among scoliosis patients include persistent pain if there’s wear and tear of the bones, and a higher risk for chronic back pain. Changes in body appearance may also develop, such as unequal shoulder levels, prominent ribs, uneven hips and a shift of the waist and the trunk to the other side. Apart from physical pain, the patient may also experience issues such as lowered self-esteem and increased self-consciousness.12,13

MORE ABOUT SCOLIOSIS

Scoliosis: Introduction

What is Scoliosis?

Types of Scoliosis

Severe Scoliosis

Scoliosis Symptoms

Dealing with Scoliosis-Related Pain

Scoliosis Causes

Scoliosis Side Effects

Scoliosis Treatment

Scoliosis Back Braces

Yoga for Scoliosis

Exercises for Scoliosis Patients

Scoliosis Surgeries

Scoliosis Prevention

Diet for Scoliosis Patients

Scoliosis FAQ



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