What is scoliosis?

Scoliosis is an ancient Greek word that means “bending.” It is a medical condition where the spine, or backbone has a sideways curve. The curve can be “C” shaped or “S” shaped and the angle of the sideways curve may be mild or severe. 2 – 3% of people in the United States have scoliosis and most commonly occurs between the ages of 10 and 20. Females have scoliosis more often than males and usually with more severe curves. The orthopedics spine experts at BICMD can diagnose and offer expert treatment advice with a telemedicine visit, for individuals with scoliosis, through our state-of-the-art telemedicine platform. Patients across the globe are able to connect with our “Best in Class” specialists for the best and most-up-to-date treatment options for their type of scoliosis.

What are the types of scoliosis?

There are several different types of scoliosis with the most common being “idiopathic” scoliosis. Idiopathic means that the exact cause of the curvature of the spine is unknown. The experts at BICMD often give expert consultations on the following types of scoliosis:

AIS or Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis:

This type of scoliosis typically occurs between the ages of 10 and 20, or during adolescence. With AIS a change occurs in the shape of the spine during the child’s growth. The result is a twisting of the spine, and at the same time, the spine curves sideways. When severe, the twisting can move the ribcage out of position, creating a hump on the side of the ribs. AIS is idiopathic, meaning there is not a known cause of the curvature. AIS has better results when treated early on and a proper diagnosis is important.

Congenital Scoliosis:

Congenital scoliosis means the spinal curve or condition predisposing to scoliosis was present at birth. This condition begins in the womb, as the spine begins to develop. As the vertebrae develop, one or more does not form properly, or they do not separate the way they are supposed to. This causes the spine to form and grow unevenly. When the child is born, congenital scoliosis can evolve rapidly, with a part of the spine growing quickly while another part remains unchanged. If severe, this type of scoliosis can cause other health issues such as kidney, heart and lung problems.

What are the symptoms of scoliosis?

The most common symptom of scoliosis is a visible curve in the back. Individuals might lean a little, when standing straight. The waist, hips or shoulders may look uneven, or one shoulder blade could look bigger. Symptoms of scoliosis that are more severe include:

  • Back stiffness
  • Low back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Pain or numbness in the legs
  • Difficulty breathing

How is scoliosis diagnosed?

The most definitive diagnostic test for scoliosis is an x-ray.  The curve on the x-ray is measured and is given a diagnosis based on the degree of the curve. The curvature of the spine is considered scoliosis if it measures 10 degrees or more. Significant curves are those that measure between 25 and 30 degrees. Severe curves, those measuring 45 degrees or more will often require more aggressive treatment.

If the doctor suspects an underlying condition, spinal tumor or other problems associated with the curvature of the spine, an MRI or CT scan may be requested to make the best diagnosis.

What is the treatment for scoliosis?

Mild forms of scoliosis, with a lower degree of curve do not always require treatment. Depending on what they see on x-ray, the physician may recommend watching the spine and repeating x-rays each year to monitor the curvature. Some children grow out of scoliosis.

More significant cases of scoliosis may include the following treatment:

  • Bracing – Bracing is very specific to the type and degree of curve. Some braces can be worn only at night, others throughout the day. Most modern braces cannot be detected under clothing and do not limit activities.

Surgery for scoliosis correction:

If the curve is greater than 40 degrees and getting more severe, your specialist may recommend surgery to stop the curve from progressing and to diminish the spinal deformity. There are several surgical techniques for correcting scoliosis, and each should be considered carefully. The experts at BICMD have the most-up-to-date information on scoliosis treatment and can consult with you through a telemedicine visit. Our “best in class” orthopedic spine specialists will recommend and explain the best treatments available.

For more information and resources on scoliosis, adolescent idiopathic or congenital scoliosis, or to obtain a 2nd opinion before having a surgical procedure, please contact our specialists, by clicking on “Connect With a Doctor.” You will be connected to one of our orthopedic telemedicine experts through our state-of-the-art telemedicine platform.