What is Scoliosis

The recent wedding of Princess Eugenie has raised the awareness of a spinal condition called Scoliosis. Eugenie was diagnosed with Scoliosis, which is where the spine curves or twists when she was just 12 years old in 2002, and she subsequently underwent successful corrective surgery. In this blog we explain what the condition is, what are the symptoms and what treatment is available.

What is Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a spinal condition that describes an abnormal sideways curve of at least 10% that presents as an S or a C shape.

Who is affected by Scoliosis

Scoliosis can affect people of any age, manifesting itself at birth, in childhood or in teenage years. Teenagers account for 80% of cases where Scoliosis is of an unknown cause. There may be a genetic predisposition to the condition, but the specific genes have not yet been identified.
The degree of curvature is stable in some individuals but increases with time in others. For some reason, girls are at an increased risk of progression and the larger the curve, the more likely it is to worsen with time. X Rays are used to confirm diagnosis and reveal the severity of the curvature.

Symptoms of Scoliosis

Parents may notice that a child has a shoulder higher than the other or a more prominent shoulder blade. The waist may be uneven or one hip higher, resulting in one trouser leg being longer than the other. The child may not complain of any symptoms until the curvature becomes more pronounced, then muscles become painful and the back becomes stiff and sore. In severe cases, Scoliosis may cause the rib cage to press against the heart and lungs, making it difficult to breathe and harder for the heart to pump.

Treatments for Scoliosis

Treatment depends upon the severity of the curve and the age of the child. If the child is still growing, a very close-fitting brace may be used to prevent further progression of the curve. This is worn day and night.

Surgery may be recommended for a severely progressing Scoliosis. This involves placing pieces of bone or bone-like material in-between the vertebrae. Metal hooks, screws and wires then hold that part of the spine straight while the old and new bone material fuse together. In a young child, the rod can be adjusted and lengthened every six months to allow for growth.

Generally, exercising and eating well will help with spine health, but won’t prevent the Scoliosis worsening.

Although it can’t halt the condition, Osteopathy can help with the muscle and back pain symptoms of scoliosis . For more information about non-surgical treatments for Scoliosis contact Tim or Juliet Hanwell at Berkhamsted Osteopaths.