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  • What is Scoliosis?

    Scoliosis is when the spine curves from side to side, usually in an ‘S’ shape. The spine may also be rotated.

    The main types of Scoliosis are:

    • Congenital Scoliosis, due to congenital birth defects in the spine and is often associated with other organ defects
    • Degenerative Scoliosis, caused by degeneration of the discs that separate the vertebrae or arthritis in the joints that link them. This type of Scoliosis occurs later in life.
    • Neuromuscular Scoliosis, due to loss of control of the nerves or muscles that support the spine (commonly from Cerebral Palsy or Muscular Dystrophy)
    • Scoliosis Of Unknown Cause (Idiopathic), one of the commonest forms of scoliosis, that usually occurs in childhood or adolescence

    Scoliosis can be mild, moderate or severe.

  • The causes of Scoliosis depend in the type. It is not caused by carrying heavy objects (such as heavy school bags on one shoulder), sports or physical activities, poor standing or sleeping postures or a lack of calcium in the diet.

  • Many signs of Scoliosis are noticeable and can be detected in early childhood. These include:

    • ‘S’-shaped curve in the back when standing
    • A tilt in the waistline
    • Curving of the body to one side when viewed from the front or back
    • One breast appearing higher than the other in women
    • One shoulder that appears higher than the other
    • Scoliosis is usually detected in school children during screening by nurses who observe for asymmetry of the trunk when the child bends forward.

  • Treatment includes:

    • Bracing to stop progression of spinal curve; it does not reduce the curve that is already present
    • Observation for mild curves less than 25 degrees
    • Surgery, recommended for growing children with curves that are greater than 40 degrees and for curves that are more than 50 degrees at any age:
      1. To prevent further progression of the curve
      2. To control the curve when brace treatment is unsuccessful
      3. To improve the cosmetic appearance
      4. To reduce discomfort or postural fatigue

    Scoliosis cannot be corrected by learning to sit or stand up straight.

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