A person with scoliosis may have one shoulder higher than the other. One scapula or shoulder blade may be more prominent and one hip may be higher than the other.
--By Dr Gaurav Raj Dhakal
The entire month of June had been declared as “Scoliosis Awareness” month. When the body is viewed from behind, a normal spine (back) appears straight. However, when a spine with scoliosis is viewed from behind, a lateral or side to side curvature may be seen. This gives the appearance of the trunk or body leaning to one side and this should not be confused with poor posture.
A person with scoliosis may have one shoulder higher than the other. One scapula or shoulder blade may be more prominent and one hip may be higher than the other. With arms hanging loosely at the side, there may be more space between the arm and the body on one side. When the patient is asked to bend forward with knees straight, one side of the back appears higher than the other.
What causes Scoliosis? Eighty-five percent of people with scoliosis have an unknown cause or idiopathic type. It may appear at any age but most commonly appears in early adolescence. At this stage, young people are reluctant to allow their bodies to be seen by their parents. Hence, parents must be very vigilant and should immediately consult a spine surgeon if any one of the above signs appears. There may be other causes of scoliosis like defects in the spine appearing at birth (congenital scoliosis), disorders of the nervous system, muscular diseases, connective tissue diseases and genetic abnormalities.
In childhood, idiopathic scoliosis occurs in both girls and boys. However, as children enter adolescence, girls are five to eight times more likely to have their curves increase in size and require treatment. People with scoliosis should seek a spine surgeon’s consultation as early as possible. Ninety percent of scoliosis are mild and do not require surgery. However, it is very important that the deformity be monitored by periodic examination and X-rays. In this era, of modern instrumentation and surgical principles, it is possible to surgically correct the deformity and prevent further progression of the curve.
The key to the management of scoliosis is early diagnosis, spine surgeon consultation and appropriate treatment. As age advances, the curve becomes stiff and there will be less than optimum correction of the deformity and the risks associated will multiply.
The author is a Spine Surgeon at Norvic International Hospital. He has completed a clinical spine fellowship from Kolkata, India and a pediatric spine fellowship from Riley Hospital for Children, Indiana University, USA.