Scoliosis Discovered Late In Life


A) An adolescent with thoracic idiopathic scoliosis on the right side.
B) Her rib prominence is more obvious when bending forward.
C) This x-ray of her spine clearly shows the right thoracic curve.

Images A to C are examples of S-shaped right thoracic curve with bending forward and rib hump (Source: Scoliosis Research Society)


Detecting Scoliosis  Scoliosis is present in approximately 2 to 3 percent of the U.S. population, which is similar to rates in other countries such as Greece (nearly 2 percent). Scoliosis is most commonly detected in adolescence, usually around 12 to 13 years old, and is more common in females. This type of scoliosis is known as adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS), and may be the most common type of spinal deformity; it is certainly the most common type of scoliosis (approximately 80 percent). “Idiopathic” means that there is no known cause. Although the cause is unknown, genetics do influence the likelihood of not only developing scoliosis but also increase the chance of developing a progressive scoliosis that may require more extensive medical treatment. CHD7 was the first gene discovered that was linked to idiopathic scoliosis. Having a relative with scoliosis may increase the likelihood of developing scoliosis by twofold. Therefore, if you have a child with scoliosis, your other children should be closely monitored for the development of the condition.

Once scoliosis is identified, it is very important that health care practitioners determine if the scoliosis is functional or structural. These are two general categories of scoliosis. Functional (also known as non-structural) scoliosis occurs in a structurally normal spine that develops a lateral curvature as a result of a separate cause, such as one leg’s being shorter than the other (“leg length discrepancy”), or muscle spasm due to various causes like a lumbar disc herniation. Functional scoliosis is potentially reversible if the cause can be identified and treated. Structural scoliosis isn’t reversible, and is often referred to as a “stiff curvature,” but through treatment it may be possible to prevent worsening of the curvature. AIS is the most common type of structural scoliosis, and once the condition is identified, it will be monitored. Treatment will depend on the severity and/or progression of the spinal curve(s), especially around the time of growth spurts. If the curvature progresses beyond 25 degrees, then bracing is often utilized, and if greater than 50 degrees, surgery is considered.

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  • Susanna Gaertner April 30, 2018 at 1:28 pm

    Pilates helps in countering the effects/onset on scoliosis: by stretch and strengthening the pelvic plate from the inside you can avoid or at least forestall that bottom-under curl that begins to weaken the spine into curvature.
    pilates4all dot com
    Spine health is key!