Scoliosis & Spinal Deformities
What Is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis can be defined as an abnormal sideways development in the curvature of the spine. Emerging for an assortment of reasons, this abnormal curvature will typically result in a side-to-side bend called a C or S-curve. In other words, instead of curving gradually toward the front and back of the body in a gentle S-shape, the spine will bow sideways into a C or S-shape.
However, this general definition expands to include a multitude of subtypes, defined by specific causes and possible courses of progression. Scoliosis can arise at any time during a lifetime—from the time we spend in utero to adulthood. The symptoms and side effects of the conditions can range from completely unnoticeable to debilitating and excruciatingly painful. Furthermore, the underlying causes that promote scoliosis development can vary greatly. Genetics, spinal injuries, diseases—even unknown sources—can all cause scoliosis to emerge in susceptible individuals.
What Are The Different Types of Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a broad term for a condition that often has diverse symptoms, underlying causes, and prognoses. Specifically, doctors use different identifiers to classify scoliosis according to these causes.
In no way is the following list of scoliosis subtypes exhaustive. These are merely the most common:
Pediatric Scoliosis: Pediatric scoliosis can arise at any point during childhood, adolescence, or the teenage years. Doctors can now detect the beginnings of scoliosis in developing fetuses while they are still in the womb. Pediatric scoliosis can follow many courses and require a variety of treatments. At times, it cannot be detected at all, only to emerge in later adulthood.
Adult or Degenerative Scoliosis: Adult or degenerative scoliosis is caused by aged-related degeneration in the intervertebral discs, cartilage, and vertebrae of the spine. Commonly linked with spinal arthritis, loss of these supportive structures leads to compression of the vertebrae. In turn, these processes can lead to deformities in the natural and healthy curves of the spine. Furthermore, excess weight and spinal injuries can also contribute to the development of this condition.
Idiopathic Scoliosis: Idiopathic scoliosis is one of the most pervasive forms of scoliosis. Even so, it remains the subtype with the least amount of information regarding its causes. In fact, that is what idiopathic means: arising with no apparent cause. Although primarily appearing during adolescence, idiopathic scoliosis can also emerge during adulthood.
Neuromuscular Scoliosis: Neuromuscular scoliosis is primarily caused by damage from a neuromuscular disease. These diseases may include: spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, and many others. The spine often cannot withstand the physical stress of damage to the brain and the spine’s supportive network of muscles, nerves, and connective tissue. When neuromuscular diseases affect these supportive tissues, uncontrolled bending of the spine and scoliosis can occur.
How Do I Know If I Have The Symptoms Of Scoliosis?
A wide range of causes can lead to the development of scoliosis, just as scoliosis can affect many different age groups. The general symptoms, however, are not all different from each other. Below is a list of possible symptoms that may arise when dealing with scoliosis.
- Abnormal Sideways Curvature: Development of an unnatural C-curve of the spine, ranging from 10 degrees to 80 degrees or more.
- Bending of the Torso: An unnatural curve may be accompanied with a twisting of the spine, causing the torso to bend both forward and to the side.
- Visible Asymmetries: An uneven appearance to the body can arise, with asymmetry developing in the legs, height of shoulders, or height of hips.
- Shoulder Disparities: One or both of the shoulder blades may unnaturally fan outward from the back.
- Uneven Gait: An abnormal gait may develop due to an incongruent displacement of weight. This abnormal gait can lead to favoring of one leg and can cause damage to the hip, knee, ankle, and foot.
- Bowed Head: With a progressively developing bowed posture, the head will unmistakably follow. The nose may begin to point toward the ground, resulting in difficulty in visualizing your surroundings, ambulating, and completing everyday activities.
- Nerve Pain: Furthermore, pain and burning in the back or radiating to the limbs because of damaged intervertebral discs and pinched nerves may occur. Tingling, loss of sensation, and a pins-and-needles sensation may also appear.
- Leg Pain & Stiffness: Pain and stiffness may develop in the low back and hamstrings due to the pull from the upper body.
- Life-Threatening Complications: In extreme cases, severe symptoms can emerge. Difficulty breathing, circulatory issues, and spinal cord injuries can develop.
How Dr. Lowenstein Can Help
Despite the universality of the above symptoms, they do not arise at the same time or in the same way for each person. For some, symptoms may be minor and gradual to develop. However, other patients may experience a sudden onset of symptoms with rapid progression. Whatever the intensity of your symptoms, it is always best to monitor your condition closely with the guidance of a practiced and knowledgeable physician.
Dr. Jason Lowenstein, a Castle Connolly top-rated doctor, is nationally renowned for his expertise in resolving scoliosis. An active member of the Scoliosis Research Society, Dr. Lowenstein and his team of clinicians are practiced in today’s leading, state-of-the-art treatments for scoliosis. With the Lowenstein team, you can trust that your spine will receive the right treatment—at the right time. Call Dr. Lowenstein today to assure the long-term wellness of your spine and to improve your quality of life!