Scoliosis is a progressive, lateral curvature of the spine. When viewed from the side, the spine should have curves. But when viewed from the front, the spine should be straight.
Scoliosis can affect both children and adults. In children, it can be a more serious condition because it can rapidly progress as the child grows.
Scoliosis is usually first seen in children between the ages of 10 and 15.
This is called “adolescent idiopathic scoliosis”. Idiopathic means “of unknown origin”. But recent research into the cause of scoliosis seems to suggest that there is often a genetic factor which affects the control of the growth of the spine.
However, it can occur in younger children aged 3 to 9 years (juvenile scoliosis) and in babies (infantile scoliosis). Progression usually coincides with the increased growth following puberty and therefore commonly affects girls at an earlier age than boys. It is also 10 times more common in girls than boys. Scoliosis can also occur in adults with no previous history, due to spinal degeneration and advancing age.
The effects of scoliosis include poor posture, shoulder humping, muscle weakness, and pain. In rare cases, scoliosis can lead to heart and lung problems. If scoliosis is detected and treated early, patients may avoid these symptoms in many cases. If left untreated, scoliosis can sometimes require surgery. Bracing is an effective treatment for halting the progression of scoliosis curves and reducing the need for surgery.
While very small curves are common and of no significance, about 2% of girls have a curve which warrants observation during the growth period. Three girls per 1,000 will require treatment during the growth phase. If treatment is required, the earlier it is undertaken, the better the long-term result. The way to detect scoliosis is to look for it since in the early stages scoliosis produces no symptoms. It may be more noticeable during the warmer months when less and lighter clothing is worn or when in bathing suits.
The observable signs of Scoliosis are:
• Unequal gaps between the arms and the trunk
• Head not centered over the body
• One shoulder higher than the other
• One shoulder blade higher or more obvious than the other
• One hip more prominent than the other
• Obvious sideways curvature of the spine
If you have any concerns regarding the spinal curves of a child or an adult, the Chiropractors at Waverley Central Chiropractic can help in conducting a thorough assessment.