Scoliosis (from Ancient Greek: σκολίωσις skoliosis "obliquity, bending") is a medical condition in which a person's spine is curved from side to side. Although it is a complex three-dimensional deformity, on an X-ray, viewed from the rear, the spine of an individual with scoliosis may look more like an "S" or a "C", rather than a straight line.
Scoliosis may cause the head to appear off center or one hip or shoulder to be higher than the opposite side. You may have a more obvious curve on one side of the rib cage on your back from twisting of the vertebrae and ribs. If the scoliosis is more severe, it can make it more difficult for the heart and lungs to work properly. This can cause shortness of breath and chest pain.
Very Severe Scoliosis (Over 100 degrees). Eventually, if the curve reaches over 100 degrees, both the lungs and heart can be injured. Patients with this degree of severity are susceptible to lung infections and pneumonia. Curves greater than 100 degrees increase mortality rates, but this problem is very uncommon in America.
Severe Scoliosis (over 70 degrees). If the curvature exceeds 70 degrees, the severe twisting of the spine that occurs in structural scoliosis can cause the ribs to press against the lungs, restrict breathing, and reduce oxygen levels. The distortions may also cause dangerous changes in the heart.
several things are taken into consideration to determine the best treatment option: Spinal maturity – the amount of growth left in the child’s spine, Degree and extent of the curve – the severity of the curve and how it affects the child’s daily life, Location of the curve – is it a thoracic (upper spine), thoracolumbar (middle spine) or lumbar (lower spine) curve? Some are more likely to progress than others.
The goals of treating any deformity of the spine are to stop progression, normalize spinal function, minimize any associated painful problems. For adolescent patients with severe curves, and for adults with curves that continue to worsen, or are painful, surgical treatment can reduce and halt the progression of the spine's deformity.
In one study, about 23 percent of patients with idiopathic scoliosis presented with back pain at the time of initial diagnosis. Ten percent of these patients were found to have an underlying associated condition such as spondylolisthesis, syringomyelia, tethered cord, herniated disc, or spinal tumor.
Congenital scoliosis is not a common problem: approximately one person in every 10,000 is affected, and that number has remained fairly stable over the years.
Scoliosis is diagnosed as one of three types: Idiopathic (of unknown origin); Congenital, in which the bones are asymmetrical at birth; or Neuromuscular, in which the scoliosis is symptomatic of a systemic condition, such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, or paralysis.
Everyone's spine has curves. These curves produce the normal rounding of the shoulder and the sway of the lower back. A spine with scoliosis has abnormal curves with a rotational deformity. This means that the spine turns on its axis like a corkscrew.
The cause is unknown. Congenital scoliosis does not run in families. Although it is often discovered during the infant or toddler period, some curves may not be diagnosed until the adolescent years. The curves tend to progress only while the child grows, unless adjacent (compensatory) curves become significant in size.
There is a fine line between the term scoliosis and a very mild curve in a normal spine. Curves are measured in degrees. Persons with a curve of ten degrees or less are often thought to have just an asymmetry of the spine - but in children who end up with significant curves we have to consider that they started with a straight spine so even a ten degree curve can progress to a fifty degree curve and a significant deformity, if there is enough growing time remaining.
Scoliosis is the medical term for curvature of the spine. It occurs in approximately 2% of women and less than 1/2% of men. It usually starts in the early teens or pre-teens and may gradually progress as rapid growth occurs. Once rapid growth (puberty) is over then mild curves often do not change while severe curves nearly always progress.