What is scoliosis and what causes it?
Scoliosis is a condition in which your spine curves sideways instead of being completely straight. It usually occurs in the growth spurt just before kids hit puberty. The root cause of scoliosis is sometimes traced to muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy, but its root cause is often unknown. Scoliosis is a common condition, affecting 3% of all adolescents.
In most cases, scoliosis is mild and causes little to no severe problems. However, in some cases, scoliosis continues worsening as one grows older, leading to severe disabilities. Severe scoliosis also shortens the amount of space in the chest, leading to severe respiratory problems.
Children with mild or moderate scoliosis must be monitored through regular x-rays to ensure the spinal curvature doesn’t worsen. Medical treatments aren’t necessary for mild cases of scoliosis, and the child may simply have to wear a brace to prevent the curve from worsening. However, advanced scoliosis may necessitate surgical intervention.
How can you identify scoliosis?
You can generally identify the initial warning signs of scoliosis in the early stages before a child enters puberty. Some of the most visible signs of scoliosis include uneven shoulders, one shoulder blade is more prominent than the other, one hip is higher than the other, an uneven waist, recurring back pain, and a rotating spine.
Essentially, you can identify scoliosis by looking for signs of unevenness, i.e., when one side of the body is higher or lower than the other. As scoliosis worsens, you may also notice one of the ribs protruding further than the other — this is a sign of worsening scoliosis, and you must contact a doctor immediately.
What causes scoliosis?
Doctors are still uncertain about the cause of the most common forms of scoliosis, but they usually have a hereditary component. Most spinal disorders run in the family. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), over 80% of all scoliosis cases don’t have an identifiable root cause.
While doctors can’t identify the true cause of most scoliosis cases, some less-common scoliosis cases can be traced to one of the following conditions:
- Muscular dystrophy, and other related conditions that weaken your muscles.
- Cerebral palsy, which refers to various conditions and disorders that affect an individual’s ability to move or balance correctly.
- Birth defects that prevent the bones of the spine from developing correctly.
- Spinal injuries and infections.
While most scoliosis cases don’t have an identifiable root cause, you can look out for some risk factors of scoliosis.
- Age: Most signs and symptoms of scoliosis show up during the growth spurt just before puberty. You should be particularly observant of your child’s body posture and movements during this time.
- Sex: Both boys and girls are equally likely to develop the initial signs of scoliosis. However, there’s a far stronger likelihood of the spinal curve worsening in girls.
- Genes: Your children are more likely to have scoliosis if there’s a family history of spinal disorders or scoliosis.
If you believe your child is displaying signs and symptoms of early scoliosis, please contact a back and spine specialist for x-rays, diagnosis, and potential treatments.