Scoliosis is a condition in which the vertebrae in the back become rotated, resulting in a curvature of the spine. People with mild cases may not even realize they have scoliosis, but severe scoliosis can be extremely painful. It can also cause disfigurement, impair mobility, and make breathing more difficult.
Symptoms of scoliosis include: a tilted pelvis; a curved or misshapen spinal column; a rib cage that appears unbalanced or asymmetrical; and having one shoulder that is higher than the other.
June is Scoliosis Awareness Month, a time for educating the public about the signs and symptoms of the disease, as well as, advocating for the patients and their families. Early treatment with braces can help patients avoid surgery later, so it’s important to see a doctor if you have back pain or any physical abnormalities in your spinal column.
Scoliosis Affects Three Percent of the Population
That’s about seven million people in the U.S. alone. Most patients are diagnosed during their teen and pre-teen years, from ages 10 to 15, but scoliosis can strike at any age.
It’s More Severe in Girls
Although scoliosis affects males and females equally, girls are eight times more likely to develop degenerative scoliosis. In degenerative scoliosis symptoms worsen over time, requiring more treatments, and resulting in more complications for the patient.
While 85 percent of scoliosis diagnoses are classified as idiopathic – meaning of undetermined origin – the disease is thought to be hereditary. It tends to run in families, but the severity of the disease will vary from one generation to the next. It may also skip a generation.
Children who have relatives with scoliosis should be check regularly for signs of the disease.
Scoliosis can also be caused by traumatic spinal cord injuries, disk degeneration, and diseases like polio.
It Can Re-Occur After a Pregnancy
It’s common for women with a history of cured or non-degenerative scoliosis to experience symptoms again after a pregnancy. Experts believe that increased hormone production coupled with “loose ligaments” can cause additional spinal curvatures.
Screening is Easy and Painless
It’s non-invasive and takes about 30 seconds to complete. Some states offer scoliosis screening at school, but if your state doesn’t, make sure your pediatrician checks for the disease during your child’s annual exam.
There’re new treatments being developed every day, so it’s important to for patients to educate themselves on the latest options. The Scoliosis Research Society is a great resource for consolidated information on the types of braces that are available, as well as, other treatment options.
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