All You Need to Know About Scoliosis
Although scoliosis is a very rare physical condition, it does still affect people around the world. Around 3% of adolescents across the globe have scoliosis. Although the number is low, its still important to have an awareness of what the condition is and what it poses towards our health.
Scoliosis is a sideways curvature in the spine that occurs in children and young adults. Most cases of scoliosis are mild. However, it can cause deformities and worsen over time. It may also lead to physical deformities and disabling people from living a normal life. This is why it’s important to understand what scoliosis is and how it can be treated and prevented.
Causes of Scoliosis
Most cases of scoliosis are from unknown reasons. Doctors believe that scoliosis heavily depends on hereditary factors as most cases of scoliosis run in the family. Congenital disabilities, physical injury and other health disorders, including cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy, are other causes of scoliosis.
Three different categories usually define scoliosis:
- Functional: this type of scoliosis is when the curve develops because of a problem that lies somewhere else in the body. This could be caused by an abnormal body part or an imbalance of muscles in the body.
- Neuromuscular: this type of scoliosis is when the bones of the spine are not able to form correctly or have an abnormal structure from birth. People who have this type of scoliosis often develop a long c-shaped curve and are unable to keep their back straight. People with this type of scoliosis may also have other congenital disabilities, including muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy or other birth disorders.
- Degenerative: Unlike the other types of scoliosis, this type is usually found in adults and the elderly and is caused by arthritis in the spine. This happens when the ligaments and soft tissue in the spine begin to deteriorate. This can also lead to fractures as well as osteoporosis.
Risk Factors or Development of Scoliosis Include:
- Age. Scoliosis is usually found in young children and adolescents and becomes less likely to occur in older ages. Growth spurts just before puberty is also a time when scoliosis begins to develop.
- Gender. The number of people affected by scoliosis is quite even between both makes and females; however, women are at higher risk of mild scoliosis from becoming worse over time.
- Family history. Scoliosis can be inherited through genetics, and people with a family history are likely to pass it on. With that being said, most children with scoliosis today don’t have a family history of this condition.
Symptoms of Scoliosis
Most children with scoliosis only experience it mildly and may not even feel it at times. And though it’s hard to feel it physically, it can be physically seen from the body structure. Signs and symptoms of scoliosis include:
- Uneven shoulder height
- Uneven waist height
- One hip is higher than the other
- A bulge on one side of the lower back
- Discomfort in the back area
- Difficulty moving around or bending over
When scoliosis goes untreated for a long while, these symptoms will aggravate, and the severity worsens overtime.
Although scoliosis isn’t as serious or life-threatening as other bone-related diseases or disabilities, more severe cases can put your health under threat. Some instances of scoliosis can lead to:
- Damage to internal organs, lungs, and heart – Severe scoliosis may force your rib cage and bones to press against your organs, heart, and lungs, making it hard for you to breath as well as feeling pressure and discomfort in your body. This pressure on the heart may also make it harder to pump blood and can lead to other health concerns.
- Back problems – Children with scoliosis are more likely to develop chronic back pain as they get older and into their adulthood. Children with scoliosis may also experience pain in their backs when lifting heavy items and performing simple tasks. They may also experience difficulty holding the proper posture for long periods.
- Physical appearance – When scoliosis worsens over time, you will be able to see the noticeable changes around your body. Physical differences can be noticed from the hips, waist, and shoulders and can be problematic for self-conscious people.
Prevention and Seeing the Doctor
Scoliosis isn’t something that you can prevent by keeping an eye on it. This is because 80% of cases have unknown causes. If you notice any of the signs or symptoms mentioned in the above points, speak with a doctor as soon as possible.
Keeping a good posture and doing stretches consistently from a young age can certainly help with preventing other related spine or bone problems heading into adulthood. Managing a healthy weight can also lessen the chances of bone structure deformity in the future.
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