Scoliosis is one of the most common spinal conditions that can affect all ages. Despite its prevalence, the nature of the condition often remains a mystery.
The term scoliosis originated from the ancient Greek word “skolios”, which means curved or crooked. From the front, the spine should be completely straight. However, in the case of scoliosis, there are one or more abnormal sideways curves. It can have many different causes but the three most common types are congenital, functional and idiopathic.
The word congenital means a condition you’re born with. Congenital scoliosis forms from a malformation of one or multiple vertebrae that cause abnormal curves of the spine as the child grows.
Functional scoliosis can be caused by abnormal alignment of the spine and pelvis, leg length discrepancy or asymmetrical muscle contraction. Therefore, it is a response to a different issue that often resolves once the root issue is corrected.
Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common cause of scoliosis but also the most puzzling. The word idiopathic means the cause is unknown and often arises spontaneously. Over 90% of idiopathic cases arise between the ages of 11-18 years. As a result, it is often correlated and emphasized during adolescent growth spurts. Females have a 2:1 prevalence and also are far more likely to have severe, progressed curvatures.
Aside from the obvious physical distortions, scoliosis can also cause pain/discomfort and uneven joint wear that can lead to degeneration. If it is severe enough, it can even cause functional organ problems such as respiratory and digestive issues.
If caught early, its progression can often be stopped and improved with conservative care. Therefore, it’s important to have your child’s spine checked to monitor progression and determine the best method of care. With the right management, most people with scoliosis can live healthy and vibrant lives.