Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine has rotated abnormally and curves to the side. Scoliosis can exist at birth or develop during childhood, and most commonly occurs during adolescence. The ailment is very rarely found in adults, and due to the onset of facet joint disease. Scoliosis causes are not known, although genetics could be a determining factor. A standing X-ray confirms the diagnosis of scoliosis in any individual with a sideways spinal curvature of ten degrees or greater. The deformity typically is detected during regular follow-up with a pediatrician or a school screening, with girls being at higher risk than boys. It is visible when a person is wearing a swimsuit or is changing clothes.
In many cases of scoliosis, the following symptoms are present:
Pain is not significant but can be present due to muscle spasms and inflammation caused by the condition. Some individuals can experience degeneration of vertebrae and facet joints because of increased load-bearing. Others report back pain that they feel is from the spinal curve itself.
Treatment for scoliosis is conservative, and there is rarely a need for surgical intervention. Physician assessment takes place every six months for a curvature of fewer than 25 degrees. When it advances past that point, bracing begins. The brace is for night use at a minimum (8 hours), or to be worn full-time (16-23 hours). If bracing is ineffective, and the curve reaches 40 degrees or greater, surgical choices to consider are posterior spinal fusion, growing systems (rods attached to the spine to keep it straight, and lengthened as the child grows) or vertebral tethering systems. Alternative therapies such as acupuncture, chiropractic manipulation, and physical therapy have not been proven effective in treating scoliosis. Massage, Pilates, and yoga may, however, help relieve mild to moderate muscle pain.
If you have been diagnosed with scoliosis and would like to find out if you are a candidate for the treatment choices we offer, please call us at either our New Braunfels or Seguin offices.