What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis explained by Denver, Golden, Aurora, Boulder, Broomfield, Jefferson, and Littleton Colorado’s top pain doctors

Scoliosis is a condition that causes the abnormal curvature of the spine to the right or left. The spine has a natural curve, but should have the appearance of a fairly straight line when it is viewed from the front through an X-ray or other imaging technique. In scoliosis patients, the spine is moderately or severely curved and twisted into the shape of an “S” or a “C”.

Scoliosis can develop at any age, although it commonly occurs after a child reaches ten years of age. Furthermore, the incidence rate of this condition is higher in girls than boys. Although scoliosis affects approximately six million people in the U.S., only a small percentage of individuals have a case that requires extensive treatment.

Scoliosis may present itself in a structural form or a nonstructural form. In cases of nonstructural scoliosis, the spine is actually normal, but appears to be curved due to an underlying condition, such as muscle spasms or a difference in leg length. This type of curve is typically mild and reverses if the underlying condition is addressed. In cases of structural scoliosis, there is a permanent and abnormal curvature of the spine.

Individuals who have scoliosis may have trouble with their balance or may struggle to walk, stand, or run. Furthermore, the pronounced curvature of the spine may cause an individual to struggle to stand up straight or be hunched over. 

Causes of Scoliosis

Scoliosis Spine ComparisonAccording to published studies, there are various causes of scoliosis. For example, the cause may be unknown, it may be neuromuscular due to damaged muscles and nerves in the back, or it may be congenital due to a birth defect. Although this condition affects girls more often than boys, both genders tend to struggle equally from the symptoms. Scoliosis may also be an inherited condition and a person who has a family history of scoliosis is 20% more likely to develop the disorder. More specifically, congenital scoliosis may be diagnosed at birth as the cause of the abnormal structure of the spine. Moreover, neuromuscular scoliosis may develop in people who are born with cerebral palsy or become paralyzed.

Idiopathic scoliosis, which has an unknown cause, is the most common form of this condition and is diagnosed in 80% of patients with scoliosis. Research indicates that this form of scoliosis may be inherited.

Osteoporosis, back surgery, or a traumatic injury may cause a degenerative form of scoliosis. This form often develops in older individuals as a result of damaged intervertebral discs or joint degeneration. Biological factors also make individuals more susceptible to this condition and children who have irregular coordination skills or physical abnormalities have a higher susceptibility for scoliosis as well.

Treatments for Scoliosis

Epidural Steroid Injection XRAYIt is important to treat scoliosis because the spinal distortion can worsen if left untreated. Therefore, the main goal of scoliosis treatment is to improve an individual’s quality of life by hindering the progression of the condition and reducing the symptoms.

The treatment approach that is chosen will be based on the severity of the scoliosis and will entail a combination of methods that improve the probability of experiencing positive results. Conventional approaches that are often suggested include exercise, a back brace that is worn daily, chiropractic therapy, or physical therapy.

Another common option is medication therapy that involves non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and opioid medications. This form of treatment is quite effective at providing pain relief. Moreover, epidural steroid injections help reduce painful symptoms.

In addition to the conventional methods, various forms of alternative therapy may be utilized to treatment scoliosis. For instance, methods such as acupuncture, biofeedback, or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation have afforded patients who have mild or severe cases of scoliosis with positive results.

If these types of treatments are ineffective, surgery may be recommended, but this is typically the last option that a physician will suggest. Individuals with severe cases of scoliosis may also need surgery in order to prevent serious complications from occurring.

Conclusion

Scoliosis CurveScoliosis is a disorder that is characterized by an “S” or “C” shaped curvature of the spine. This condition affects millions of people in the U.S., but has the highest incidence rate in girls. Causes for scoliosis include degenerative conditions, neuromuscular problems, or biological factors, although this condition may also be inherited. Various types of treatments have been established to treat scoliosis, such as back braces, medication, and chiropractic therapy. The purpose of these treatments is to improve a patient’s quality of life and reduce painful symptoms. Severe cases of scoliosis may require surgical treatment.

At Pain Doctor our goal is to relieve your scoliosis pain and improve function to increase your quality of life.
Give us a call today at 480-563-6400.

References

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  4. Lonstein JE. Idiopathic scoliosis. In: Lonstein JE, Bradfordn DS, Winter RB, Ogilvie J, eds. Moe’s Textbook of Scoliosis and Other Spinal Deformities. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa:. WB Saunders Co;1995:219-256.
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