Home Back & Spine Scoliosis: Symptoms and Treatment 101

    Scoliosis: Symptoms and Treatment 101

    Scoliosis is a problem with the curve in your spine. Some curves in your spine are normal. But a few people have spines that make a large curve from side to side in the shape of the letter “S” or the letter “C.” If this curve is severe, it can cause pain and make breathing difficult.

    Scoliosis 101

    Scoliosis most often affects girls. It also develops more rapidly during a growth spurt.

    The good news is that most cases of scoliosis are mild. If found early, they can usually be prevented from getting worse.

    There are many causes of scoliosis. In most cases, it is idiopathic, or of unknown causes. Many times, it is present at birth, due to the lack of proper formation if the ribs and spine. For some, it could be related to other conditions such as polio, cerebral palsy, or spina bifida.

    Basic treatment

    Mild cases of scoliosis usually do not need treatment. Your doctor will check the curve of your child’s spine every 4 to 6 months. If the curve gets worse, your child may need to wear a brace until he or she has finished growing.

    In severe cases, or if bracing doesn’t help, your child may need to have surgery. The surgery usually consists of two rods being inserted into the back and secured into place, to force spinal alignment. The rods are removed after the bones have aligned, and a brace is to be worn to prevent the spine from shifting out of place again. Sometimes, physical therapy follows surgery, to explain treatments and monitor progress.

    Most people have great success with a back brace, with little to no impact on long-term effects of life quality. In severe cases, such as those who’s condition is caused by another illness like Muscular Dystrophy or Spina Bifida, long term care and more invasive treatments are often administered. People with this type of scoliosis often have a hard time sitting up straight or walking, and the treatment is altered to accommodate more simple goals.

    General symptoms

    • Pain or discomfort in the back
    • Discomfort or tired back after sitting or standing for long periods
    • Shortness of breath
    • Curved spine
    • Uneven hips or shoulders



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    Lorie Parch
    Lorie Parch has spent 25 years working as an editor and journalist at national consumer magazines and leading websites. This includes staff roles at AOL (UK), Yahoo!, Time, Inc., Conde Nast, Hearst, American Media and Gruner + Jahr.

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