Scoliosis And Back Pain

Guest post time. Today’s topic is Scoliosis – a medical condition that results in back pain. I first heard about it a long time ago when dating a young lady with this condition. It was no wonder – she was a fair bit taller than me! Since then, I have met many “mostly” tall friends who seem to have this. Since I don’t know much about it, I went around hunting for an expert’s viewpoint. We finally have one, and she has agreed to share her post with us. Here goes:

“Scoliosis is a medical condition that refers to a lateral or rotational curve and deformities in the spine.  There are different types and causes of scoliosis. A congenital scoliosis is a condition that has developed after birth while an idiopathic scoliosis develops as a secondary symptom of another condition. Scoliosis can affect anyone and serious cases can be physically debilitating.

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Scoliosis causes the spine to develop or curve into a C-shape or into other directions.  It is often painful but some conditions during adolescence not cause too much discomfort except for the obvious physical or skeletal imbalance. Celebrities who have been diagnosed with scoliosis include Isabella Rosellini, Renee Russo, Liza Minelli, and Sarah Michelle Gellar.

To get proper diagnosis, a person must consult an orthopaedist who specializes in spine diseases and bone abnormalities. The orthopaedist will usually ask the patient to undergo the following examinations:

Physical Examination – Your doctor will check your back, chest, hips, legs, and even the skin.  The doctor will look for imbalances or structural abnormalities in your shoulders, legs, and chest.   Specifically, the doctor will look to see of your head is centred over your shoulders, and whether opposite sides of your body look even.  Another easy way to detect scoliosis is to examine whether your pant legs drop at equal length.

X-ray – If you have unusual, persistent low back pain or a large spinal curve, the doctor will ask you to take an x-ray examination.  The x-ray of your back will give a more detailed picture of the spine and the curvatures.

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Curve Measurement – Using the X-ray image, the doctor will measure the curve and determine what kind of therapy or treatment is needed based on the degree of curvature. Curves that are greater than 20 degrees need immediate medical treatment, which may include surgery. There are different approaches in the treatment and management of scoliosis, as shown below:

Bracing – This is recommended for children or adolescents whose curves progress to 30 degrees and beyond. Bracing allows the spine to be held in a straighter position and prevents the progression of the curve.

A brace will not make your spine straight but it will help improve the posture and reduce the curvature.  The commonly prescribed brace is called the Milwaukee Brace which consists of metal uprights attached to pads and positioned on the hips, rib cage, and neck; and the Underarm Brace which is made of plastic and is placed around the rib cage, abdomen, and hips. Bracing is also prescribed for other types of neuromuscular disease such as spinal muscular atrophy.

Surgery – When bracing fails to give the desired results, surgery is often seen as the next option. Bracing might not work for everyone. The main purpose for surgery is to join together the bones of your curve and realign the vertebrae.  The surgical procedure is called spinal fusion.

To cope with scoliosis, some patients get a massage or a similar therapy session that helps improve body alignment, flexibility, and posture. Aquatic exercise can also improve a scoliosis patient’s posture and balance. Acupuncture is also used as an alternative method for reducing pain and discomfort brought about by scoliosis.

Your world need not stop from spinning just because you have a spine problem.  Scoliosis patients can still lead happy, active lives.  People with scoliosis can still participate in sports and other physical activities.  Remember, physical fitness is important for people with back and spine problems.”

Once again, thanks to Dr. Cara for this article and her willingness to share it. If this is relevant to someone you know, please feel free to share this article with them. Cheers!

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