Scoliosis

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Scoliosis is a condition involving abnormal curvature of the spine and affects 5-7 million people in the US.

Scoliosis can begin at any age is more prominent among females and can be genetic, occurring in about 1-2% of adolescents and more than 50% in persons over age 60. Vertebroplasty

Scoliosis may be idiopathic, congenital, or occur as a consequence of another condition. It is called idiopathic when no underlying cause can be identified. Most cases of scoliosis are considered idiopathic.  Congenital scoliosis is present at birth. Scoliosis as a secondary symptom of another condition may occur in concert with neuromuscular diseases such as spina bifida and cerebral palsy, and hereditary musculoskeletal disorders including osteogenesis imperfecta, Marfan syndrome, Stickler syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and muscular dystrophies. In other cases, scoliosis may arise from physical trauma, spinal stenosis, and bone collapse from osteoporosis.

Scoliosis may produce specific, progressive signs and symptoms. The main diagnostic criterion for scoliosis is spinal curvature exceeding 10 degrees in a single plane. The spine may appear to bend in a “C” or “S” shape. Other signs of scoliosis may include uneven musculature on one side of the spine, uneven hips, uneven leg lengths, imbalance, anxiety, and a prominent rib or shoulder blade caused by rotation of the ribcage. In severe cases, which involve angles of greater than 25 degrees, patients may experience difficulty breathing, pain, and reduced functionality, and infections that can cause damage to the heart and lungs.

If scoliosis is neglected, spinal deformity may progress dramatically. In general, treatment is based upon severity and location of the curvature, as well as the age of the individual. Recommended treatment programs include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and chiropractic care. Surgery is usually reserved for patients whose curves are greater than 45 degrees or have a high likelihood of progression, and impaired physiological functions such as breathing. Fortunately, most curves can be treated non-operatively if they are detected before they become too severe.

References

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