Scoliosis information for patients Scoliosis is a condition that causes a lateral (sideways) curve of the spine that is usually detected in childhood. A slight curve of the spine is a common condition. For ninety per cent of children this will correct itself in time.
Typically with a “classic” scoliosis there is an S-shape to the spine, starting to one side in the low back, then to the opposite side and back again in the middle and upper back. However, scoliosis can simply be a one-sided curve in any part of the spine.
Some patients may have an underlying disorder that is associated with scoliosis such as muscle weakness or imbalance. However, the most common form of scoliosis, Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis, doesn’t appear to be due to any medical condition. Current research suggests that it is an inherited condition, mainly genetic in nature.
If a child under the age of six is found to have scoliosis it is called early onset. When scoliosis occurs in the very young it can sometimes progress and be a serious disorder. It is more common in teenagers who are most likey to be concerned by the appearance of their spine rather than be in any pain.
Scoliosis is not usually painful although pain can occur because of the muscles trying to conform to the way the spine is curving. However, this usually only happens in larger curves. As the curve keeps growing, there is more pressure in some prominent areas than others. This can cause the muscles to seize up and become sore.
Scoliosis is not preventable but early detection can increase the chances of successful treatment. Scoliosis can be detected by looking for the following:
- Uneven shoulders
- Prominent shoulder blades
- Uneven waist
- Uneven hips
- Leaning towards one side
A simple test involving touching your toes will also show a raised hump on your back. Should you feel that you or your child may have scoliosis, please visit your family doctor.
Links to useful websites:
Scoliosis Association UK - aims to put people with scoliosis in touch with each other - also has a confidential helpline listed on their contact page.
Scoliosis Research Society - information for patients. This scoliosis information source has been highly rated by doctors and patients.
EuroSpine, the Spine Society of Europe - clinical site where surgeons from around Europe have voted on their preferred treatment options for scoliosis. There are cultural differences in the way the condition is treated in different countries and a variety of opinions may be expressed.