What is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is the term used to describe any sideways curvature of the spine. When viewed from behind, the normal spine of a person is generally straight. The curve to one side can happen at any level in the spine but is most common in the lower back or at chest level. Scoliosis is common in children and usually presents during the growth spurt that occurs before puberty, from age 9 to 15. In most cases of childhood scoliosis, treatment is not needed and may correct itself as the child grows. A very small number of people with scoliosis require surgery to correct the curve. The spine may cure in any a few different ways:
- The spine has a curve to the left (C shaped), called levoscoliosis.
- The spine has a curve to the right (C shaped), called dextroscoliosis.
- The spine has two curves (S shaped), called thoracolumbar scoliosis.
- The spine is bent forward, called kyphosis.
- The spine is bent backward, called lordosis.
- The spine is turned on its axis (rotary), called rotoscoliosis
In approximately 80 percent of scoliosis cases, there is no known reason for it, this is what is known as <i>idiopathic</i> scoliosis. Of the types of scoliosis that do have clear causes, they are divided into structural and non-structural. In structural scoliosis, the spine is rigid and the curve cannot be reversed without surgery. In non-structural scoliosis, the spine has normal function but appears to be curved. This can be caused by muscle spasms in the back, one leg is shorter than the other, or severe organ inflammation such as appendicitis. Scoliosis can also be degenerative in older adults. It is caused by arthritis — spondylosis. A combination of osteoporosis, disc degeneration, weakened muscles, or bone spurs can lead to the abnormal curving of the spine. When scoliosis is detected it should be closely monitored by a spine physician in the event that the curvature progresses and may need intervention.