Scoliosis is a spine condition that causes an abnormal lateral curvature. Curvatures less than 10 degrees are considered mild, while those more than 45 degrees are classified as severe. There are two types of scoliosis whose classification is based on patients' age during onset. Childhood scoliosis is diagnosed in children or adolescents. On the other hand, adult scoliosis occurs after the skeleton is fully developed. The clinical presentation of scoliosis includes asymmetric shoulders and waist, prominence of one hip, and a lop-sided ribcage. Scoliosis can cause breathing difficulties due to lung compression by the ribcage and chronic back pain if left untreated. Thus, patients diagnosed with scoliosis should receive timely treatment. Commonly used treatment options include the following.
Exercise and Observation
Most cases of scoliosis can be managed using non-invasive treatment methods since they are mild and cause no visible changes. The doctor will recommend that you make regular observation visits to the hospital to monitor the condition's progression since it might remain the same or worsen. The doctor will also prescribe medication to help manage chronic pain. In addition, physical therapy can help relieve symptoms. Thus, patients should consider exercises like stretching, swimming, and maintaining generally active lifestyles to help strengthen their cores and ease the pain. The doctor can also recommend Schroth exercises to improve body posture and stabilize the spine. Lastly, patients with adult scoliosis should refrain from smoking because it can exacerbate scoliosis.
Wearing Back Braces
Doctors may advise patients to wear a back brace if the curvature of the spine is between 20 and 40 degrees. Back braces are also recommended for children whose bones are still growing. Braces do not cure scoliosis, but they can prevent the condition from worsening as children's bones develop. The braces are mostly made of plastic that is shaped to meet the specific needs of every patient's condition. Back braces are effective in managing scoliosis when used as a long-term intervention. Thus, patients should wear them for the recommended time. Doctors may remove the back brace once a patient's skeletal structure reaches maturity.
Treatment Through Surgery
Surgery is a last resort used in severe cases of scoliosis with spinal curvatures exceeding 45 degrees. Spinal fusion is the most common surgical treatment. The procedure involves fusing two or more individual bones that form the spinal column using titanium rods, hooks, and screws. Once combined, individual bones cannot move separately, thus preventing any further curvature. In addition, the surgery relieves nerve pressure on the spine which reduces pain.
For more information on scoliosis, contact a professional near you.