Curvature of the spine is sometimes a result of scoliosis and can result in things like an uneven waist and shoulders
Scoliosis is an unnatural curvature of the spine. The spine of a healthy person, when viewed from the back, appears as a straight line, in a person with scoliosis the spine appears to curve from side-to-side.
In teenagers and children there may be no noticeable scoliosis symptoms, if there is any pain it is usually so mild it goes unnoticed.
Most cases of scoliosis have no known cause.
There are several scoliosis symptoms that may be present when an individual bends from the waist, as if reaching to touch their toes -
One shoulder is lower than the other
One shoulder blade appears to stick out more than the other
The rib cage appears higher at one side
Tilting of the body
One leg may be shorter than the other
One hip higher or more prominent than the other.
Back pain is not generally considered a scoliosis symptom and any child or teenager with scoliosis who complains of persistent back pain should be taken to see their doctor in order to determine the cause and any necessary treatment. When a diagnosis of scoliosis is made, the patient will need to have regular check-ups in order to keep an eye on the progression of the curvature – in most patients the curvature remains mild and requires no treatment.
Risk factors for scoliosis
Significant curvature of the spine because of scoliosis is seen more often in girls than in boys – the curvature in girls is also more likely to need treatment, as the curves are more likely to progress. Curvature progression appears to increase during puberty when body growth is at its fastest.
Once a curve is detected in children or young adults, monitoring is essential in order to detect any increase in the spinal curve during the rapid growth spells that take place in young people.
Untreated scoliosis, in very rare cases, may result in a curve so severe that it impairs heart and lung function.
When scoliosis has been detected, usually in young people between the ages of 10 and 18, the medical practitioner will continue to monitor the curvature -
Mild curvature of 20 degrees or less rarely requires treatment
Curvature that is greater than 20 degrees may need treatment to prevent further progression. Treatment options include non-surgical or surgical choices.
Monitoring is an important part of scoliosis patient care – prevention of the curvature is essential for the overall health and well-being of the patient. A curvature of more than 50 degrees will be more likely to progress into adulthood and a curvature of 70 to 90 degrees will cause deformity.
Very rarely scoliosis symptoms may be caused by neurologic injury, signalled by leg pain and/or numbness. It is likely that this type of scoliosis symptom is caused by a lesion or tumour on or around the spine. Other indications include -
Patient is younger than a typical scoliosis patient
Presence of pain and numbness
Presence of a left leaning curve
The presence of any or all of these scoliosis symptoms should precipitate immediate medical treatment and tests such as an MRI to determine the cause.
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