Centres of Excellence -> Spine Health -> Scoliosis (symptoms and treatment)

Scoliosis (symptoms and treatment)

What is scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a complex disease and has various causes (genetics, congenital anomalies, neuromuscular diseases, pediatric syndromes, secondary scoliosis, etc.). In the broadest sense of the word, scoliosis is any lateral curvature of the spine. In the narrower sense of the word, these are deformations where there are structural changes in the ribs, spine joints, bone structure, ligaments and are most often accompanied by rotation and torsion of the entire torso. Scoliosis is actually a rotational deformation of the spine with a torsional deformation of the entire trunk. In extreme forms of scoliosis, there are deformations of the ribs that put pressure on the lungs and heart.

Scoliosis affects 2-3% of the world's population, or about 12 million people in the EU. Every year, 20,000 cases of severe scoliosis are reported in the EU, but less than 3,000 cases ever undergo surgery due to the complexity of the operation (according to CORDIS EU research results data from 2015).

How to establish that it is scoliosis?

The symptoms of scoliosis are similar to deformities and any other conditions of the spine, so it is a little more difficult to distinguish it. The most common scoliosis is idiopathic, which means of unknown cause, and can be caused by various health conditions such as juvenile osteoporosis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, etc.

The decision on the method of treatment is always made on an individual basis. The first step is an examination by a specialist doctor with many years of experience and the patient will receive detailed instructions for further treatment based on a personalized approach.

Types of scoliosis

Structural scoliosis - the most common category of scoliosis. It involves the rotation of the spine along with the curvature of the spine from side to side. This type of scoliosis affects the structure of the spine and is considered permanent unless the spine is treated:

  • Idiopathic scoliosis accounts for about 8 out of 10 cases of scoliosis. This type of scoliosis usually occurs during adolescence, but can begin earlier in childhood or infancy. It is currently unknown what causes idiopathic scoliosis. Some research suggests that genetics play a role, but other factors that are still being studied are likely involved.
  • Degenerative scoliosis in adults is a common condition that occurs later in life when the joints in the spine degenerate.
  • Neuromuscular scoliosis sometimes develops in people who cannot walk due to a neuromuscular condition such as muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy.
  • Congenital scoliosis develops in the womb and is present in childhood. The rare condition, which affects 1 in 10,000, can be the result of vertebral malformations or other causes. In most progressive cases, the curve of the spine must be corrected surgically.

Non-structural scoliosis, also known as functional scoliosis, is due to a temporary cause and involves only side-to-side curvature of the spine (no rotation of the spine). The structure of the spine is still normal:

  • Muscle spasm. If the major muscle in the back begins to spasm, the spine may pull in one direction and a side curve may occur.
  • Difference in leg height. When one leg is significantly longer than the other, scoliosis may be present while standing.
  • Inflammation. If a part of the body on one or the other side of the spine starts to get inflamed, a scoliosis curve can occur. Some possible causes could be appendicitis or pneumonia.

Risk factors:

  • Age - signs and symptoms usually begin in adolescence.
  • Gender - although both boys and girls develop mild scoliosis at about the same rate, girls have a much higher risk of worsening and needing treatment.
  • Family history - scoliosis can run in families, but most children with scoliosis have no family history of the disease.

Possible complications:

While most people with scoliosis have a mild form of the disorder, scoliosis can sometimes cause complications, including:

  • Breathing problems - in severe scoliosis, the chest can press on the lungs, making it difficult to breathe.
  • Back problems - people who had scoliosis as children may be more likely to have chronic back pain as adults, especially if their abnormal curves are large and untreated.
  • Appearance - as scoliosis worsens, it can cause visible changes — including uneven hips and shoulders, prominent ribs, and sideways movement of the waist and torso. People with scoliosis often become aware of their appearance. Therefore cosmetic appearence is increasingly recognized as a reason for surgery.

Treatment of scoliosis

Treatment of scoliosis is possible and there are two ways of treatment: non-operative treatment with an orthosis that serves to prevent its progression in the early stages of scoliosis. The orthosis should be applied early in childhood, when the spine is still pliable and when the orthosis stops the progression of the disease. Physical therapy serves as an additional treatment for long-term wearing of orthotics (early onset scoliosis), which lasts for 10-15 years, and the orthosis is worn 23 hours a day.

Another method of treatment is surgical treatment, with the use of the most modern diagnostics from the world's leading manufacturers, such as X-rays with a view of the whole body, MR, neurological diagnostic processing and others.

In St. Catherine Hospital a multidisciplinary expert team was formed for the treatment of scoliosis, and the surgical treatment is based on many years of experience and a large number of scoliosis operations.

The postoperative course is more pleasant and easier with the possibility of accommodation for an escort and single-bed apartments with the highest standards of excellence.

Candidates for surgical treatment:

  • Progression of the deformity during period of growth, or even in adult period
  • Constant pain, resistant to conservative treatment
  • Pulmonary (and or) cardiac impairment
  • Unacceptable cosmetic appearence (rib hump, torsional trunk deformity etc.)

Make an appointment for an examination and see for yourself the expertise and personalized approach. We treat scoliosis in adults and in children from 6 months of age.

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