Let’s start by understanding what exactly your doctor means when he says you are suffering from scoliosis. It is simply an abnormal side-to-side curvature on the spine. It is common to develop scoliosis just before puberty but can develop in adolescence as well. It can also develop due to neuromuscular problems such as muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy. Other cases develop due to asymmetries skeletal structure such as having 1 leg shorter than the other. Still yet many develop or worsen as a result of degeneration as ligaments relax and bone spurs develop. Women are more at risk than men of developing scoliosis
While most cases of scoliosis in children and teenagers are mild, older people can really have a nightmare with the ailment. Indeed, when it is too severe, you risk getting disabled. Further, a considerable amount of curve on your spine can reduce the chest space and thereby make it difficult for the lungs to function properly.
Here are some symptoms that should make you worried if you spot them.
- Having one hip higher than the other
- Shoulders that are uneven
- Having one shoulder blade that is more visible than the other
- Uneven waist
It is, however, important to note that in older people, there might be some associated complications too. These include:-
- Lung and heart damage: Your lungs may lack enough space leading to breathing difficulties. The heart may find it hard to pump.
- Back pain: Chronic back problems are likely to be prevalent in people with back problems.
- Appearance: As the problem progresses, your shoulders might appear uneven. You also might have uneven hips. In the worst scenarios, a shifting waistline is also noticeable.
The first thing your doctor does will be doing a cross-examination by asking questions relating to the recent growth. You may be asked to stand and bend towards one side with your arms hanging loosely. This helps to determine if there is one side of the rib that is prominent than the other. Some symptoms include abnormal reflexes, numbness and muscle weakness. The doctor might also want to know if you have any neck pains.
If the doctor gets the answers to the above-mentioned concerns, he then might proceed to do an imaging test to determine the severity of the bend. Popularly known as physical therapy, the doctor might suggest some exercises that might help you regain the original stature.
A plain x-ray test can be used to reveal how severe the spinal curvature is. If the doctor suspects that there is any sort of underlying conditions like tumors, some advanced imaging tests can be recommended. This is recommended in instances where physical therapy might not work.
The treatment of scoliosis is done depending on the severity of the spine’s curve. It also depends on the future possibility of the curve worsening. You need to understand that there are some types of scoliosis that are more severe than others. The main methods are
- Physical therapy
This is the most common type of scoliosis and it causes some abnormality in some parts of the body. You might have a leg that is shorter than the other. Doctors will simply recommend a special shoe with a wedge. This prevents the spine from curving further. For such people, there might be no further treatment since the spine is normal. If you had some back pain when walking, the wedge ensures a balanced stature and reduces both the back pain and neck pain.
In some case, if caught early enough in their development before skeletal maturity is reached patients can be fitted with a brace. When properly fitted and worn during adolescence bones can be allowed to develop with more natural and normal structural alignment. This will allow them to free themselves from needing bracing in adulthood and can avoid the need for surgical intervention.
Considering the fact that neuromuscular scoliosis is as a result of abnormal bone development derived from abnormalities in muscle tone present from birth there is a very large possibility that it might get worse as you continue aging. In such cases, braces might not do. Surgery can be recommended to ensure that the curve is taken care of. Often times a stretching and strength training regimen is included in these cases to compliment the surgical interventions.