Scoliosis: Part 1

What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is described as a medical condition whereby a person’s spine curves either laterally or rotationally in a C-shape or an S-shape. Commonly it starts when boys and girls reach puberty. Most research show girls showing signs of scoliosis around 11 years of age while boys show signs a little later around 12. In clinical practice however, some children develop deviations as young as 9 years old due to poor posture at school and the use of iPads, tablets, mobile devices and laptops.

What does Scoliosis look like?

Scoliosis could present in many ways. Most younger patients have aches or pains in their upper back and lower back. Some report daily headaches or headaches after a long day at school. Commonly seen are slight deviations in the child’s upper back or shifting of their body posture as well as one shoulder raising higher than the other. Parents should look out to notice if the child’s clothes are not hanging properly and if they have a shoulder blade that is slightly protruding on one side more than the other.

How do we diagnose scoliosis?

There are some simple ways to test for scoliosis at home. Examinations of the child’s range of motion in his/her thoracic spine and lumbar spine (upper and lower back) would show imbalance and inconsistencies when compared left to right. In clinic we perform the Adam’s test which acts as a good general screening tool. This test can be performed seated or standing and can reveal deviations in the patient’s upper and lower back. A scoliometer or inclinometer is another easily performed screening.

However, I would always recommend patients suspected of having scoliosis to get x-rays done. X-rays are the easiest and definitive way of measuring a patient’s scoliosis progression. This is done by measuring The Cobb angle between the most tilted vertebrae at the top and bottom of the curve.

Am I at risk of scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a genetic condition that if one parent has, has a 30% chance of passing on to their children. 2:1 chances to the female. In clinic however, I see an equal number of male to female patients when it comes to scoliosis. Some vary from a slight deviation (less than 15 degrees curvature) to mild-moderate scoliosis (20-30 degrees). Genetic scoliosis would be considered Idiopathic scoliosis where the condition arises from an unknown source or beginning.

There are however cases of non-idiopatic scoliosis. This could be congenital where there is a malformation of the vertebrae at birth such as a hemivertebrae, unilateral bar or blocked vertebrae. This could also be linked genetically but malformations could also be caused by certain toxic agents or diseases. Neuromuscular scoliosis is where the spinal column muscles are injured or weak. This includes spina bifida, cerebral palsy and other spinal cord injuries. Other kinds of non-idiopathic scoliosis could be caused by a weakness in passive stabilizers such as post-operative patients, Marfan’s syndrome and inflammatory diseases.

Who can help me with my scoliosis?

At Healthworks, we have a team of chiropractors, physiotherapists and physical trainers who are experienced and have helped many scoliosis patients and cases live a healthy, balanced and regular life with scoliosis. Scoliosis is NOT a disease that has to cause you pain and discomfort! As we say at Healthworks, if you have scoliosis, your spine is simply bent not broken! Come see us and let us help you today.