Learn more about how our doctors can help to manage and treat Scoliosis.
Scoliosis occurs when the spine has an abnormal sideways curve that usually has an “S” or “C” shape. The condition was first described by the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates.
- The name comes from the ancient Greek word for “a bending”
- Scoliosis usually develops in patients who are between ten and twenty years old
- It is more common and more severe in girls
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Types of Scoliosis
There are many types of scoliosis, and they are classified by their cause and the patient’s age. Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, the most common type, describes scoliosis that developed in a teenager or preteen and has no identifiable cause. In rare cases, scoliosis can be a congenital deformity. Infantile scoliosis is seen in children under three years old and is often caused by malformed vertebrae. Juvenile scoliosis develops in children between three and ten years old.
Traumatic scoliosis is caused by injury, while neuromuscular scoliosis is caused by a disease of the nervous system like cerebral palsy. Scoliosis can also affect adults, and the most common form seen in adults is adult idiopathic scoliosis. Adult degenerative scoliosis is associated with degeneration of the spinal discs and/or osteoporosis. It is most common in patients who are over 40 years old.
The Cobb angle, named after its developer, the orthopedic surgeon John Cobb, is a diagnostic tool for measuring the curve in a patient’s spine. Doctors use the Cobb angle to determine the severity of the scoliosis and also the appropriate treatment. A Cobb angle of less than ten degrees is perfectly normal, while a Cobb angle of between ten and twenty is considered mild. A Cobb angle ranging from twenty to forty is considered moderate, while anything over forty is considered severe.
Treatment for scoliosis will depend on its cause and severity. If the scoliosis is caused by an injury or disease, the doctor will treat those causes. Mild cases of scoliosis are usually treated through observation; the doctor will take X-rays of the patient’s spine to make certain the curvature isn’t getting worse. Many doctors also recommend some kind of physical therapy.
Moderate scoliosis is usually treated with a back brace, especially if the patient is still growing. To get the best results, the patient should wear their brace for at least 13 hours a day. Braces don’t cure scoliosis, they just keep it from getting worse. Chiropractic treatments can also help.
Doctors often recommend surgery for patients with severe scoliosis. Many such patients have a progressive form of the disorder that will get worse as they get older. This is particularly true if the patient is still growing or has adult degenerative scoliosis. In many cases, the doctor will fuse two or more of the vertebrae to keep the patient’s spine straight.