Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine rotates and curves to the side abnormally. Idiopathic scoliosis, which has an unclear origin, is the most prevalent kind. Here are five things you should know about identifying and treating idiopathic scoliosis.
Scoliosis commonly develops during adolescence
Adolescence accounts for more than 80% of all idiopathic scoliosis cases. The reason for this is unknown, however, it is widely assumed that the body’s quicker pace of growth during this age has a part. Similarly, after an adolescent has reached skeletal maturity, a scoliosis curve of less than 40° is unlikely to continue to grow. As a result, one of the most important aspects of treating scoliosis is detecting it early and, if necessary, preventing the curve from reaching 40° or more by skeletal maturity.
Scoliosis might be difficult to detect
Scoliosis may have no visible indications or symptoms at first, especially if it is mild. When the measure of the sideways curve, known as the Cobb angle, exceeds 10° or greater, a formal scoliosis diagnosis is considered. A person with a 10° or even a 20° curvature, on the other hand, is unlikely to detect it. As a scoliosis curve evolves, it is more likely to be discovered at a routine physician appointment or at a school screening. When a child’s back is exposed, such as while wearing a bathing suit or changing in a locker room, a parent or acquaintance may detect an abnormal sideways curvature of the spine.
Active treatment is rarely required
Despite the fact that scoliosis is the official diagnosis for a sideways curve of at least 10°, the majority of these curves do not advance to the point where they create issues or necessitate treatment. A doctor’s examination every 4 to 6 months until skeletal maturity is sufficient to manage the problem for the great majority of patients with idiopathic scoliosis. As long as the curve does not reach 25° or 30° and does not advance more than 5° in 6 months, it is not regarded to be at high risk of worsening.
Rigid bracing can halt the evolution of curves
A brace may be advised if a scoliosis curve has reached at least 25° and significant quantities of skeletal development remain. Rigid braces are currently the only nonsurgical treatment that has been shown to decrease the course of scoliosis and lessen the likelihood of considering surgery. While some studies have found that some types of exercise can lessen or halt curve advancement, the data is mixed and further research is needed.
Surgery is a last-resort treatment
Surgery may be recommended in rare cases where idiopathic scoliosis continues to grow past 45° or 50°, such as when bracing has not been done or has failed. The most common scoliosis procedure is a posterior spinal fusion. While the outcomes of this surgery are generally positive and the technique is very safe, it is still a big surgery. Scoliosis surgery may need an extended recovery period of 6 to 12 months, as well as the danger of infection, severe bleeding, and other consequences. If a scoliosis curve has not yet reached 45° or 50°, the possible advantages of surgery are unlikely to exceed the dangers.
While most cases of scoliosis are modest, it’s reassuring to know that today’s treatment choices in bracing and surgery are better than they were a few decades ago. Remember that if your doctor recommends it, general exercise is still a wonderful idea for increasing back strength, flexibility, and posture.