Home Article "Scoliosis is more than just back pain", what causes Scoliosis? Know Its Symptoms, Treatment and Surgery

"Scoliosis is more than just back pain", what causes Scoliosis? Know Its Symptoms, Treatment and Surgery

Updated On 06 Mar, 2018 Published On 06 Mar, 2018

Usually, when we look at someone's back, we see that the spine runs straight down the middle of a human body. Scoliosis is an abnormal sideways curve in the spine.

Usually, when we look at someone's back, we see that the spine runs straight down the middle of a human body. Scoliosis is an abnormal sideways curve in the spine.

The angle of the curve can be small, large or sometimes in between. However, the curve measuring more than 10 degrees is considered as scoliosis.

Mild scoliosis doesn't necessarily cause issues in the human body, while severe cases can cause breathing issues to the victim.

What Is Scoliosis?        

Scoliosis causes the spine to curve most often during the growth spurt just before puberty. Most cases of scoliosis are mild whereas some kids develop spinal deformities as they continue to grow along with their age.

The sideways curve of the spine can reduce the amount of space within the chest that makes the functions of lungs difficult than normal.

Source: Medical News Today

Scoliosis occurs most often in kids age 10 to 14. In most cases, the condition is progressive. It is prevalent in about 3% of people; girls are more severely affected than boys.

The condition is often hereditary. A child having a parent with scoliosis has a high chance of developing the same disease. However, there is no correlation between the severity of curves from one generation to the next.

What Causes Scoliosis? 

In most cases, the cause of scoliosis is still unknown. Scoliosis is described in different ways based on the age.

If the issue is spotted in a person less than three years of age, it is termed as infantile idiopathic scoliosis. Scoliosis that is spotted between 3-10 years of age is called juvenile idiopathic scoliosis.

Source: OrthoInfo

In the same way, people who are over ten years old have adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. More than 80% of people with the issue have idiopathic scoliosis.

There are many causes of scoliosis that include spinal deformities, neuromuscular problems, and inherited conditions.

Signs And Symptoms

The most common symptom of scoliosis observed is an abnormal curve of the spine which is easily noticed by friends and family.

The changes in the spine occur so slowly, so it's very difficult to detect until it becomes a serious physical deformity.

Source: Scoliosis and Spinal Disorders

During severe cases, the condition makes it more difficult for the heart and lungs to work properly. This can cause shortness of breath and chest pain.

Though in most cases scoliosis is not painful, a certain type of scoliosis can have painful reactions like back pain, neck pain, rib pain, muscle spasms and abdominal pain.

Some Symptoms in Infants

  • Bulging on one side of the chest
  • The kid might repeatedly lie curved to one side
  • In more severe cases, the baby may get difficulty in breathing, get heart issues and chest pain


When you visit a doctor, he will carry out some of the physical examinations of the spine, ribs, shoulders, and hips.

A doctor uses a tool known as an inclinometer or scoliometer to measure the degree of scoliosis.

Source: Spine Universe

For the detection of the angle of the curve and location, imaging scans like X-rays, CT scans and MRIs can be used. 

Treatment And Surgery

We all know that scoliosis is a neurological condition hence, treatment methods play a vital role. Generally, doctors don't recommend treatment methods when the curve is less than 24 degrees.

The following factors are considered before going for a treatment option:

1. Sex: As we all know that female are more likely than males to have scoliosis that gets severe along with time.

2. The severity of Curve: The larger the curve, the greater the risk of worsening the condition over time. S-shaped or "double curves" is more severe than the c-shaped one.

3. The position of the Curve: A curve located in the central region of the spine is more likely to get worse over time than curves appeared at the upper or lower section.

4. Bone Maturity: Use of braces are more effective when bones are still growing. The severity of the condition also lowers if the person's bone is still growing. 

Some of the effective treatment methods are explained below:

1. Casting

Casting is used instead of bracing for infantile scoliosis. It helps the infant's spine to go back to the normal position as it grows.

Source: Pinterest

The process is done with a cast made of plastic of Paris. The cast is attached to the outside of the victim's body that gets worn out over time as the infant grows rapidly.

2. Braces

Doctors usually recommend braces when the patient suffers from moderate scoliosis, and the bones are still growing.

Source: Amazon

Braces are no longer used when the bones stop growing. Two types of braces; Thoracolumbosacral orthosis (TLSO)  and Milwaukee brace is used.

3. Surgery

During severe cases, the physician may recommend spinal fusion. This surgery reduces the curve of the spine and stops from getting worse.

 Scoliosis surgery procedures are listed below:

  • Bone Grafts- two or more vertebrae are connected with new bone grafts. Sometimes, metal rods, screw, hooks, or wires is used to hold part of the spine straight in position.
  • The operation lasts 4-8 hours, and the child is transferred to an Intensive Care Unit within 24 hours.
  • In most cases, the child will leave the hospital after a week or 10 days.

Researchers are trying their best to find out the cure and cause of different types of scoliosis. The preventive measures of the problem are still unknown.

Doctors, however, say that doing some exercises like pilates, yoga and move that torque or twist the spine may worsen the condition of scoliosis.

Some gymnastic activities, lifting heavyweight and using a trampoline may also worsen the condition of scoliosis. Hence, it's better to avoid such activities and consult a physician before taking any steps.

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