Over the years I have known people that live with scoliosis. I remember there was a kid in my high school that had a very aggressive type which left him wheelchair bound. Then while working in a pediatrics unit in the hospital I came to know several children that had different forms with various severities of scoliosis. I did know a little about this illness many years ago but it wasn’t until my mother received the diagnosis that I dove into research a little more. I hate that it sounds like I am just like most people, who do not know much about an illness until it affects someone they love because that really isn’t me. I did do some research when I saw children struggling with this disease, but of course I had forgotten many details.
June is Scoliosis Awareness Month, so I want to share some information I have learned recently about this disease. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), Scoliosis affects 6-9 million people, which is about 2-3% of the population. This illness is characterized by an abnormal curvature of the spine. Just like all other ailments, there are different types that also have different severities involved. Something interesting I did recently learn is, it is the speed and mechanism of the progression plays a vital role in determining the type of scoliosis any individual is facing.
I want to first start by explaining the three different categories there are with scoliosis.
- Idiopathic- The cause of this is either unknown or there is no single factor contributing to the development of this disease.
- Congenital- This typically results from a spinal defect that is present at birth and normally is detect at a much earlier age than those with Idiopathic form.
- Neuromuscular- This is a spinal curvature which develops secondary to some type of neurological or muscular disease, such as muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy. Unfortunately, this type does progress faster than the other forms.
I also want to share with y’all the seven different types of scoliosis.
- Congenital Scoliosis- This form is very rare and only affecting about 1 in 10,000 newborn babies. This does result from spinal abnormalities that develop in the womb. Fetal development malformation of the vertebrae is the most common cause. This may form from partial formation of certain bones or the absences of one of more bones in the spine. This can lead to sideway curvature of the spine, but can also cause a child to develop additional curves in the opposite directions. The symptoms of Congenital Scoliosis include: tilted shoulders, uneven waistline, and prominence of ribs on one side, head tilt and an overall appearance of the body leaning to one side. There are several diagnostic tests that can be done to confirm the diagnosis of scoliosis which include: EOS Imaging, x-rays, MRIs and CT scan.
- Early Onset and Adolescent Scoliosis-With Early Onset Scoliosis symptoms are presented prior to age 10. When children under age 10 are facing Scoliosis, it can affect more than just their spine and can actually lead to malformed ribs which can affect their lung development. If the curves are mild, children with early onset scoliosis do not typically show any outward sign of spinal trouble. However, symptoms for these children include having uneven shoulders, asymmetrical contour of the waist, uneven hips, tilted head and leaning to one side. Treatment for children under the age of 10 is extremely important because they are still forming. Unfortunately lack of treatment can contribute to lung and heart problems that could lead to death due to heart and lung disease.
- Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis- This is one of the most common forms of scoliosis, which affects 4 out of 10 children between the ages 10-18 years old Spinal growth starts to slow by age 10, so when there is already a significant degree of curvature, the curve may continue progressing into adulthood. There are many theories about this type, which include possible hormone imbalances. 30% of patients with Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis have a family history of scoliosis, which suggests there is a genetic link. Most, but not all people do not experience pain or neurologic abnormalities and can even look normal. The symptoms come in the form of uneven shoulders, a rib hump or a leaning torso and can be associated with lower back pain.
- Degenerative Scoliosis (De Nova Scoliosis) – This is an adult late onset or de novo scoliosis which affects more than 60% of American’s. This is directly caused from age-related degeneration of the spine and those with no prior history of scoliosis. This is most commonly diagnosed in people over the age of 50. With this there is a sideways curvature of the spine that develops slowly overtime. Basically, this is the natural consequence of aging and the degeneration of joints and discs in the spine. The uneven degradation of the discs and joints can cause the spinal curvature to be more pronounced on one side. Commonly develops in the lumbar spine or lower back forming a slight C shape. According to the Cobb Angle, when the degree of sideways curvature exceeds 10°, it is diagnosed as Scoliosis. Symptoms include: dull aches or stiffness in the lower back, radiating pain that spreads to the legs, tingling sensation and weakness in the legs, frequent muscle fatigue, lower back pain, sharp pain in the legs that occurs while walking, but may subside during periods of rest.
- Neuromuscular Scoliosis- This type is a type of Idiopathic Scoliosis. This develops secondary to various other disorders of the spinal cord, brain and muscular system. The spinal curvature occurs when the nerves and muscles are not able to maintain proper alignment and balance of the spine and truck. The issues that can contribute to neuromuscular scoliosis are: Myelodysplasia, Cerebral Palsy, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, Freidrich Ataxia and Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Unless the spinal curvature becomes pronounced, there really is not any pain involved.
- Scheuermann’s Kyphosis- There are some differences between Kyphosis and Scoliosis that I would like to try explaining. Kyphosis is defined as a forward rounding of the spine, whereas Scoliosis is defined as an abnormal curvature of the spine when being viewed from the front. Kyphosis typically affects the cervical and thoracic spine, where Scoliosis affects the lower and lumbar spine. Kyphosis does develop secondary to structural deformity in the vertebrae. The early known symptoms include: poorposture, back pain, muscle fatigue and stiffness in the back. The symptoms remain fairly consistent and only worsen over time if the case is severe. One final piece of information regarding this disease is Kyphosis is typically diagnosed during adolescence.
- Syndromic Scoliosis- This is a form of scoliosis that develops secondary to other syndromes. It is commonly linked to Retts Syndrome, Beale’s Syndrome, Muscular Dystrophy, Osteochondrodystropy and various connective tissue disorders. Symptoms for this do not typically cause pain, but can cause discomfort and possibly some pain sitting when it is more severe.
Please forgive me for the length of this post. Y’all know that I try to keep things short, sweet, to the point and easy to read, but there was just so much important information I wanted share about scoliosis. Of course receiving this diagnosis would be quite scary and upsetting, but finding the right doctor that you trust will help to manage this disease. I do believe that staying positive and fighting for your own health is the only way to handle this diagnosis or really any diagnosis! It’s 2019 and I would really like to believe that science is improving and illnesses can be made easier to live with.
I really want to thank you for visiting my site today. I hope this long post provided you with information that whether you are the one dealing this disease, have a loved one who is or really just offered a slightly better understanding about this disease. I always believe it is important to educate ourselves on different issues, so we can have a better understanding to what others might be coping with! Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love , comfort, and many positive vibes!