What is scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a problem with the curve in the spine. It happens when the spine makes a large curve from side to side in the shape of the letter "S" or the letter "C." If this curve is severe, it can cause pain and make breathing difficult. Most cases of scoliosis are mild.
What are the symptoms of scoliosis?
In children and teens, scoliosis typically doesn't cause symptoms and isn't obvious until the curve of the spine becomes moderate or severe. The child's spine may look crooked, or the ribs may stick out. Most of the time scoliosis doesn't cause pain in children or teens.
How is scoliosis diagnosed?
Doctors usually diagnose scoliosis by checking to see if your child's back or ribs are even. If the doctor finds that one side is higher than the other, your child may need an X-ray so the spinal curve can be measured.
A scoliometer is an instrument that is used to estimate the amount of curve in a person's spine. It may be used as a tool for testing or as follow-up for scoliosis, a deformity in which the spine curves abnormally.
A scoliometer is similar to a level and is placed across the back at the peak (apex) of the curve. The amount of tilt in the back is estimated in degrees.
The Risser sign helps measures the risk that a curve in the spine (scoliosis) will get worse, or progress. It measures how much mature bone has developed (ossification) in the upper rim of the pelvis (iliac crest). Values range from 0 (least ossification and greatest risk of progression) to 5 (complete ossification and least risk of progression). This is determined by an X-ray.
How is scoliosis treated in children and teens?
Mild cases of scoliosis usually don't need treatment. Physical therapy may be an option. If the curve gets worse, your child may need to wear a brace. In severe cases, your child may need to have surgery.
How is scoliosis treated in adults?
Mild cases of scoliosis usually don't need treatment.
Some people may use over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen and naproxen to treat back pain. While these medicines may relieve symptoms of back pain for a short time, they don't heal scoliosis or back injuries. And they don't stop the pain from coming back.
Along with medicine, there are other ways to maintain or promote good health that may help relieve back pain for some adults. These include regular exercise and proper back care.
Your doctor may recommend physical therapy to help you learn:
- Ways to move and rest that will help relieve pain.
- Strength exercises.
- These can help support your joints and decrease fatigue.
- Flexibility exercises. These include deep breathing to help expand your chest.
- Ways to stay active without making your symptoms worse.
If the pain makes it hard to do your daily activities, your doctor may recommend surgery.