Scoliosis is a very common type of spinal deformity or abnormality. These days, more and more people, most especially children and teenagers, suffer from this kind of condition. However, only a few of us are actually aware of the important facts about scoliosis. So what is scoliosis and what are the different scoliosis symptoms?
What is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is defined medically as an abnormal curvature of the spine or the backbone of the body. The spine usually has normal curves when it is viewed from the side. However, this should appear straight when it is looked at the front or the back. There are actually different kinds of spinal curves. These curves include kyphosis, which is a spinal curve viewed from the side that shows a forward bending. Nevertheless, kyphosis is considered normal once it is located at the middle or the thoracic portion of the spine. Another type of curve is called lordosis. Lordosis is a curve that is also seen from the side; however, the spine is now bent backward. Lordosis is normally located at the upper cervical spine and as well as the lower or lumbar region of the spine.
Nonetheless, people who suffer scoliosis develop additional curves on either side thus causing the bones to twist on each other. This forms a shape in the spine that is similar to the letters “C” and/or an “S”. According to recent statistics, scoliosis is approximately two times more common in girls than in boys. This can affect about 2% of females and only 0.5% of males. Just like what is mentioned earlier, this condition is common among individuals aged 10 years and older. Nevertheless, this can still affect anyone regardless of age and gender. Studies have also proven that scoliosis is hereditary. This means that parents who have scoliosis can pass this condition to their children. However, the severity of the curve in parents does not affect the severity of the condition in their children.
Identifying the Possible Causes of Scoliosis
In most cases, the cause of scoliosis is usually unknown or idiopathic. The particular type of scoliosis is actually described based on the age when the scoliosis developed. If the condition occurs to a person who is less than 3 years old, then it is called as the infantile idiopathic scoliosis. If the scoliosis develops between ages 3 to 10 years old, then it is already considered juvenile idiopathic scoliosis. For people ages 10 years and older, this is commonly called as the adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Approximately more than 80 percent of people with scoliosis are idiopathic in nature and the majority of these are among adolescent girls.
The Common Signs and Symptoms of Scoliosis
One of the most common symptoms of scoliosis is the noticeable abnormal curve of the spine. This is usually a mild change and can be first noticed by a family member. The change in the curve of the spine happens very gradually, which is why some may find it difficult to observe not until the condition is already severe. This is the reason why most scoliosis is only seen during school screening examinations. Some of the indicative signs of scoliosis are the abrupt changes of the fit of clothing to the body. Some can find their pant legs to be longer on one side compared to the other, which is affected by the change in posture brought about by scoliosis.
Scoliosis can also make the head look off center and/or the hip or shoulder to be higher than the opposite side. An obvious curve on one side of the rib cage can also be observed due to the twisting of the vertebrae and the ribs. This can likewise cause shortness of breath and as well as chest pain. Most cases of scoliosis do not cause any pain; however, there are also some types that can produce severe back discomfort. However, this should be assessed first by the doctor in order to make sure that it is indeed caused by scoliosis. Below are the summarized symptoms of scoliosis in the body.
• The shoulders are not equal in height. One shoulder blade is more prominent than the other.
• The head is not centered directly above the pelvis.
• A prominent hip is noticeable
• There is presence of uneven wrists
• The rib cage is at different heights
• There are evident changes in the appearance and texture of the skin overlying the spine such as dimples, hairy patches and color changes.
• There is also leaning of the entire body to one side
In order to test these symptoms and to diagnose scoliosis, several tests can be performed such as the Adam’s Forward Bend Test, wherein the person is asked to lean forward with feet together and bend 90 degrees at the waist. This way, the examiner can easily view the angle or the symmetry of the trunk that is created by the curves of the spine. This test; however, cannot determine accurately the exact degree or severity of the condition. Nevertheless, X-rays, CT scans or MRI can be done in order to evaluate the condition thoroughly. These are some of the facts about scoliosis, which includes some of its common causes, symptoms and diagnostic procedures.