If you would seek health, look first to the spine. – Socrates

What is scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a condition that usually affects children and causes the spine to have an abnormal sideways curvature. This is usually "S" or "C" shaped and occurs most often during the growth spurt before puberty. It can affect any part of the spine, but the most common regions are the level of the chest and the lower back.

Possible Causes:

Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine that usually starts to develop in children just before and during the puberty. Scoliosis is a three-dimensional spine deformity characterized by lateral (>10°) and rotational curvature of the spine. The most common form is called adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS), which usually becomes evident in the early adolescent years in approximately 3% of children under age 16 and has a genetic tendency. Less common scoliosis types are sometimes caused by cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, neurological diseases, birth defects, or spinal injuries.

Risk Factors:

Age is the most important risk factor as scoliosis generally develops during the period of adolescence. While girls and boys are equally at risk, girls are at a higher risk of the condition worsening and needing treatment.

Signs & Symptoms:

Scoliosis symptoms include the following:

  • There will be a change in the appearance of the child suffering from scoliosis.

  • The shoulders will become uneven, and one may become more prominent than the other.

  • The waist may become uneven or one hip may become higher than the other.

  • In some cases, the spine twists, causing the ribs on one side to stick out.

Diagnosis:

The doctor will conduct a physical exam of the child and check for the spinal curves (may use a scoliometer), muscle strength, sensation and reflexes. In order to assess the spinal curvature, the spine specialist may advise x-rays (scoliogram). If the doctor wants to investigate an underlying condition, MRI and/or CT scan scans may also be advised.

Treatment Options:

Speak to the spine specialist at Medcare to understand the available treatments for scoliosis.

Effective treatment of patients with scoliosis should be able to reduce the risk of a curve progressing to a point where surgery is indicated or, for severe curves, to be able to identify patients who would benefit from surgery before the deformity progresses to a degree that increases the risks associated with surgery.

Brace treatment for adolescent moderate scoliosis (25-40°) has been the most prescribed non-operative method of treatment. Other means for non-operative treatment of scoliosis have also been studied. Specific exercises used to supplement brace wear or prevent progression in mild curves have been reported. 

A randomized clinical trial of patients with mild scoliosis of 10-20° has shown that scoliosis specific exercises may prevent progression to the level of deformity that would result in brace treatment. High-quality studies have established that non-operative treatment with bracing and exercises may reduce the number of patients progressing to a surgical level. 

To be effective, however, these treatments need to be applied to smaller curves prior to skeletal maturity. This places emphasis on the need for earlier detection of scoliosis.

Cases of severe and progressive spinal deformities, despite conservative treatment, can be treated thorough different surgical techniques, including the use of the new magnetic growing rods device for early-onset scoliosis, anterior, posterior or combined spinal approaches for spinal correction and fixation, among others. If detected and operated at the appropriate timing, at the specialized center, the surgery can achieve better correction of the deformity, with less risk of complications.

FAQs: الأسئلة الشائعة:
  • My child has scoliosis and is wearing a brace. Until when will this be required?

    A: A brace is generally worn until the child’s bones stop growing. For girls, this happens about two years after menstruation starts. For boys, when they need to shave daily. In both cases, there should be no further increase in height. Then you can discontinue the brace.

  • Can adults also develop scoliosis?

    A: Yes, scoliosis in adults can occur, although this is much rarer than among children. You may have had an undiagnosed condition as an adolescent. Or you may have developed scoliosis in later life due to age related degeneration of the spine.

  • My child has scoliosis. Are exercise and sports good for her?

    A: Exercise is beneficial to children with scoliosis. Exercise strengthens the core muscles that support the spine. It keeps the body agile and prevents stiffness. Sports are good for your child, too, though you may need to show her how to prevent excessive pressure on her spine. Scoliosis exercises could include stretching, swimming, cycling and strength training.

  • Will my child’s scoliosis go away on its own, without treatment?

    A: Actually, it’s very unlikely that scoliosis will go away on its own. Once your child has been diagnosed as having scoliosis, you should meet a specialist and explore all the non-surgical options before you. 

    With the right treatment, further progression of scoliosis can be halted. On the other hand, left untreated, it could trouble your child in the future due to pain, deformity and difficulty in breathing. At that time, surgery may be the only option.

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