Scoliosis, a condition characterized by an abnormal curvature of the spine, can be a scary and confusing diagnosis. The severity of scoliosis can vary greatly, but with proper treatment, most patients can live a normal life. Usain Bolt, Kurt Cobain, Elizabeth Taylor, Shailene Woodley, Yo Yo Ma, and Sarah Michelle Gellar are among the many scoliosis survivors who’ve had successful careers despite their diagnosis. Read on for more on scoliosis symptoms, causes, and treatments.
Symptoms of scoliosis most often appear in puberty, which is why screenings are mandatory in many public schools. Some signs to watch for include:
- Legs may be different lengths
- Asymmetrical rib cage
- Shoulders at different heights
- One shoulder blade and/or hip being more prominent
- Head not centered directly above the pelvis
- Back pain
- Heart and lung issues (in very severe cases)
In some cases, infants may have symptoms as well. These include:
- Bulge on one side of the chest
- Odd posture, such as laying curled and favoring one side.
Causes and Risk Factors
Signs of scoliosis usually appear just before puberty, and are more common in those who have a relative with the condition. Women are more likely to experience more severe symptoms.
Most cases of scoliosis are idiopathic, meaning they have no known cause. However, scoliosis can be caused by neuromuscular conditions, like cerebral palsy, uneven leg lengths, and abnormal fetal development.
Most children diagnosed with scoliosis don’t require treatment, as the curvature corrects itself naturally as they grow. Some others may need a back brace for a short time. Yoga and other stretching exercises may be prescribed to help with pain or to encourage healthy development. Only in rare cases is surgery required.
Although intervention is rarely necessary, it’s extremely important to get regular checkups to prevent the condition from developing into something more serious. Untreated scoliosis that does not correct itself can lead to severe heart, lung, spine, and pelvis damage.
Concerned for your child, or worried you may have an undiagnosed case of scoliosis? Request an appointment for a screening a treatment plan.