Scoliosis: A Physiological Disorder That Can Be a Source of Much Anxiety for Its Sufferers

Scoliosis refers to a common condition that affects the shape of the spine, mostly occurring in children or teenagers. 

The spine is usually straight but in patients with scoliosis, a curvature results in a ‘c-shaped’ or ‘s-shaped’ spinal column. Many scoliosis cases are of unknown cause, or idiopathic, although genetics is thought to play a part in some instances. Treatment for this condition is aimed at preventing further curvature or correcting the existing irregularity of the back, core and hips. There are a multitude of treatments available, with the optimal course of action dependent upon the diagnosis carried out by the specialist in charge. 


Causes of scoliosis


Scoliosis can be categorized according to the age at which it develops in the patient, as follows:

  • Infantile idiopathic scoliosis refers to scoliosis that affects infants under the age of 3.
  • Juvenile idiopathic scoliosis (JIS) refers to cases where children develop symptoms between 4–10 years of age.
  • Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) occurs in youngsters ages 10–18 years; this is also the most commonly affected age group.

 Moreover, some scoliosis cases can be the result of the following aspects:

  • Congenital scoliosis, which occurs when there is a spinal deformity caused by a defect present at birth.
  • Functional scoliosis that can be caused by abnormalities occurring in other parts of the body, including injuries, leg length discrepancy, muscle spasms, or consistently engaging in activities that lead to a physical imbalance over a number of years.
  • Neuromuscular scoliosis occurs in children with irregularities affecting their neuromuscular system, resulting in an imbalance in terms of the core and spinal muscles. This form of scoliosis tends to worsen as the child ages.
  • Degenerative lumbar scoliosis affects the elderly due to changes in the spine caused by degeneration of the spine.


Risk factors associated with the onset of scoliosis


The most common factors related to the occurrence of scoliosis are as follows:

  • Age: Signs and symptoms of the condition usually happen around the time when children are approaching their teenage years.
  • Gender: Both boys and girls are equally at risk of developing the condition. However, females are more likely to experience a severe occurrence of scoliosis than their male counterparts.
  • A family history: While it is possible that scoliosis can be caused by genetic factors, most cases show no family history of the condition.


Potential health complications arising from scoliosis


Most scoliosis patients do not tend to suffer serious symptoms as a result of their condition, although there are numerous possible complications associated with scoliosis, as follows:

  • Heart and lung function issues may occur in patients with severe scoliosis who are suffering from extreme spinal curvature. Moreover, severe cases can lead to ribcage irregularities that may also have an impact on heart and lung functioning, leaving the patient feeling out of breath more often than they otherwise would.
  • Back problems. Adults who suffer from scoliosis during their formative years have been shown to be more at risk than others of experiencing chronic back pain when they reach adulthood.
  • Self-esteem issues. As the condition progressively worsens, it becomes more clearly visible for others to see due to various physical characteristics, such as the shoulders and hips being uneven, the ribcage sticking out, or the patient’s core being curved. Such irregularities can lead to the sufferer losing their self-esteem as they understandably worry about how they may appear to others.
This article was written by Sumroeng Neti, M.D., Scoliosis Surgery Center, Bumrungrad International Hospital.

Staff at the Scoliosis Surgery Center are happy to provide advice and consultations regarding problems associated with scoliosis free of charge, through the following channels:
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