What is Scoliosis?
Viewed from the front or back, the spinal column should be straight. When scoliosis is present, you will see a sideways shift of the spine to the right or left. When a diagnostic x-ray is done, the curve of the spine is measured in degrees, as an angle (Cobb angle). Scoliosis is defined as a curve greater than 10 degrees. It is most common in the thoracic and lumbar regions of the spine and can involve one or both of these regions. The most common curve pattern is a right thoracic curve. Approximately 10% of the population has small (less than 10 degrees) curves which are of no functional consequence. This condition is called Spinal Asymmetry. There are naturally occurring curves in the spinal column when it is viewed from the side (laterally). Swayback (lordosis) is normally present in the cervical and lumbar regions while roundback (kyphosis) generally exists in the thoracic spine.
Anatomy of the Spine
What causes Scoliosis?
Scoliosis can arise from a number of underlying conditions, but the most common form is Idiopathic which means “cause unknown.” Scientists have identified that idiopathic scoliosis is a genetic condition and continue to work to isolate the combination of individual genes that cause scoliosis. This may eventually allow for earlier diagnosis and better selections of the “best” treatment for each patient.
There is also some evidence to suggest that uneven growth rates between the anterior (front) portion of the vertebrae and posterior (back) portion of the vertebrae may be one cause of scoliosis.
Categories of idiopathic Scoliosis
Idiopathic scoliosis is defined by the age at which it begins to develop. Each age group has unique needs and challenges associated with treatment.
How common is Scoliosis?
Idiopathic Scoliosis is thought to be present in 2–3% of adolescents. 1:500 require active treatment and only 1:5,000 have curves that progress to the degree where surgery is recommended. Girls and boys are equally affected by small degrees of scoliosis. Girls however are much more likely (8X) than boys to develop progressive curves.
Other types of Scoliosis
While Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common cause of scoliosis, there are others.
Next Page> Phase I: Diagnosis
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- - Scoliosis Research Society (SRS)
- - Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America
- - American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
- - American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Development Medicine
- - International Hip Dysplasia Institute