What is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine that measures more than 10 degrees. Instead of seeming like a straight line, a curved spine appears to look like a “C” or “S” shape.
With scoliosis of the spine, some of the bones in the spine may have rotated slightly, making a person’s waist or shoulders look uneven.
In adolescents, scoliosis appears before the onset of puberty and prior to skeletal maturity. Scoliosis in adults occurs after skeletal maturity.
What is the Cause of Scoliosis?
According to the Scoliosis Research Society, in more than 80 percent of cases, a specific cause for scoliosis cannot be determined. There are common misconceptions about what causes this condition. Scoliosis of the spine is not caused by carrying heavy things (like a backpack), participating in sports or athletic activities, poor sleeping or standing postures, lack of calcium or having one leg that is slightly shorter than the other.
What are the Signs of Scoliosis?
In adults, scoliosis symptoms include:
- Low back pain and stiffness
- Numbness, cramping or shooting pain in the legs (due to pinched nerves)
- Fatigue (due to strain on lower back and leg muscles)
In adolescents, back pain could be from growing pains or muscular strains that usually get better with time. As many as 4 in 100 adolescents have scoliosis.
Scoliosis symptoms in adolescents include:
- Crooked shoulders
- Head slightly tilted to one side
- One shoulder blade appears to “stick out” more than the other
- Frequently leaning on one side
- One leg seems longer than the other
- One side of the hips “juts out” more than the other
- Rib cage appears uneven or crooked
Treatment for Scoliosis
In 90 percent of cases, curvatures of the spine are mild and do not require treatment. For adolescents going through puberty, it’s important that curves are monitored to check for scoliosis of the spine.
Treatment for scoliosis is determined by multiple factors, such as:
- The age of the patient
- Maturation of the bone
- Degree of curvature in the spine
- Where the curve in the spine is located
- Symptoms like back pain or shortness of breath
There are multiple treatment options for scoliosis. A scoliosis doctor will monitor and observe curves with a small degree for patients in puberty (still growing) and also observe curves less than 40 to 45 degrees for adult patients (fully grown).
Non-surgical treatment for scoliosis, such wearing a brace, is typically recommended for children and adolescents with curves between 25 and 45 degrees. Surgical treatment is generally reserved for curves greater than 50 degrees for adolescent patients and adults.
Expert Care for Spinal Injuries and Spine Conditions in Denver
At Denver International Spine Center (DISC), our experienced surgeons and multi-disciplinary team provides high quality treatment and care for spine conditions and spinal injuries.
Our scoliosis specialists work one-on-one with patients to determine the best treatment options tailored to their needs.
As a scoliosis clinic dedicated to the health and wellness of each patient, the physicians at Denver International Spine Center are here to answer any questions you have about scoliosis in children and adults, as well as providing treatment for other spinal conditions and injuries.