By Jakob van Vlijmen
M Chiro, DC
Scoliosis is a bend in your spine. When viewed from the side your back should have a double S shape. However when viewed from behind the back should be straight. If this isn't the case it is called scoliosis. At least 4% of the world population has scoliosis, however, this figure is likely to be higher, as in many cases the deformity is so minimal that it is missed and it does not cause symptoms.
Scoliosis might be present at birth due to a structural abnormality; however, most often it is something that develops during growth. Scoliosis is most likely to become present at the age of 10. Incidentally, it can present later in life.
In 10% of cases an underlying illness is the cause of the scoliosis; usually this is an illness affecting the nerves or muscles causing a twist in the spine. However, in over 60% of the cases the cause is unknown. More research in the future will shed some light on possible causes and if family genetics play a role.
Children are often not troubled by scoliosis. They are quite flexible and their bodies are able to compensate. At a later stage in life scoliosis can be a possible contributing factor to back pain.
When you have scoliosis you might notice some of the following things:
Ø More tension on one side of your back
Ø One arm or leg seems longer
Ø One shoulder blade that sticks out further
Ø At times the tension in your back can cause headaches or back pain
The earlier scoliosis is identified, the earlier treatment can be started and the better the outcome will be. Especially with children it is good to stay vigilant as there is a greater chance for their scoliosis to worsen as they develop and grow. Luckily in most cases the severity of the scoliosis remains limited and surgery or a body cast is not needed. To determine if these measures are needed the angle of the scoliosis must be measured on an X-ray. When the scoliosis is more than 25 degrees a cast or corset might be needed. If the scoliosis is more than 45 degrees surgical intervention may be indicated.
To help prevent the scoliosis and diminish pain there are a few different options. A Chiropractor can help decide which steps are necessary. Furthermore, a Chiropractor can treat the problems that occur as a consequence of the scoliosis such as back pain and headaches. They will also help you become more aware of your posture as this is even more important in patients with scoliosis! Certain exercises can also help. Home exercises can be sufficient; however, some patients, especially children, might need more guidance and can benefit from occupational therapy or physiotherapy. Your chiropractor can advise you on the best course of action.
Scoliosis might not be that bad, however, it is imperative to keep an eye on it, especially in children, to make sure it doesn't deteriorate. Remain vigilant and consult a Chiropractor if you have any concerns.