Have you been told that you have scoliosis? Are you wondering what this is and what this means for your spine?
Firstly, it’s important to know it’s not a disease. Scoliosis is the name given to a spine that curves sideways in an S or C-shape. Your spine is meant to have certain forward and backward curves − these give it strength and flexibility, and help distribute stress during movement − but it shouldn’t curve sideways.
What are the causes?
Scoliosis can be functional or structural. A functional scoliosis refers to a curve caused by a non-structural problem such as poor posture or a difference in leg- length. When your legs are different lengths, everything above them tilts to adjust, and this could potentially cause a sideways curve in your spine.
Structural scoliosis refers to a curve that usually has rotation and affects the structure of your spine. Structural scoliosis may be due to a medical condition or injury, nerve or muscle dysfunction, or be congenital − meaning present from birth. In most cases the cause is unknown (called idiopathic), especially in children and teens.
What can happen if you have scoliosis?
A sideways curve changes the biomechanics of your spine; the way your bones, joints, muscles, and nerves work and move together. This alters the way your whole body functions.
Scoliosis may cause symptoms such as back pain and a change in muscle function. Some muscles can become weak while others become tight and sore. Changes in physical appearance; like having uneven shoulders and ribcage imbalance, may reduce confidence. If scoliosis is severe, heart and lung function can be affected.
How is scoliosis diagnosed?
Sometimes we can look at your spine and see the scoliotic curve. We may also notice signs in other areas of your body, such as asymmetry in your shoulders, ribs and hips.
In some cases an X-ray may be needed for a correct assessment. By using specific measurements we can assess what’s called the Cobb angle. The degree of this angle can indicate the presence and severity of scoliosis.
Why does a diagnosis matter?
The presence of scoliosis tells us your spine is not working properly; that there may be an underlying condition, or more pressure on certain joints and tissues. An early diagnosis and prompt treatment may reduce the degree of scoliosis and help limit the curve progression.
As scoliosis is such a complex and highly variable condition, there are different ways of helping it. Correct diagnosis and working out the cause − when possible − helps to determine the right type of care and treatment.
If you have or suspect scoliosis in yourself or a loved one, speak to us. We’d be happy to answer any questions. Remember, appropriate and timely treatment is important.
Adam's Back is a team of dedicated complimentary health professionals. Our aim is to support you in finding drug-free solutions for better health.