Scoliosis is an abnormality of the spine in which the spine curves abnormally to the side (laterally).
In almost 80% of cases, the cause of scoliosis is unknown. This type of scoliosis is known as idiopathic scoliosis and is most common in adolescent girls.
Idiopathic scoliosis is of three types:
- Infantile idiopathic scoliosis: Scoliosis that develops in children less than three years of age
- Juvenile idiopathic scoliosis: Scoliosis that develops between 3 and 10 years of age
- Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis: Scoliosis that is found in children between 11 and 18 years of age
The other causes of scoliosis include:
Shortness of one of the legs
Carrying unequal heavyweights with both hands
Muscle spasms in the back
Congenital (Occurring from birth):
- Muscular dystrophy (a nerve disorder characterized by progressive muscle weakness)
- Cerebral palsy (a brain disorder that affects a person's ability to move and maintain balance and posture)
- Marfan syndrome (an inherited connective tissue disease)
Degenerative changes (wear and tear of the spine): Found in older adults, the wear and tear can be due to osteoporosis or vertebra (spine bone) fractures.
Spine tumors such as osteoid osteoma: Pain caused by the pressure of the tumor on one side of the spine can force the person to lean on the other side, leading to scoliosis.
Genetics (hereditary muscle disorders): The defective gene for scoliosis can be passed down onto you by your parents. Approximately 30% of adolescents with scoliosis have a family history of scoliosis.
Injury to the spine
Infection of the spine
How does scoliosis affect the body?
The curves in scoliosis make the spine look more like the letter "C" or "S” instead of a straight line down the middle of the back. They occur most commonly in the upper and middle back (thoracic spine) but can also develop in the lower back.
Scoliosis results in an abnormal posture, and hence, it can be of cosmetic concern for people who are affected by it. Otherwise, mild scoliosis is not bothering to many. If scoliosis is severe and untreated, it can give rise to other problems that include:
Can scoliosis get worse as you age?
Several factors can worsen scoliosis. These include:
- The severity of the curve: More severe the curve, the higher the chances of its worsening.
- Pubertal age: Curves tend to worsen in the early stages of puberty in children affected with scoliosis.
- Increase in symptoms: More is the development of symptoms, the more are the chances that scoliosis will worsen.
Degenerative changes of the spine (spondylitis and osteoporosis) that appear commonly with aging can worsen scoliosis by increasing the curve and the symptoms.
In most children with scoliosis, the curvature stays as it is and does not progress further. However, follow-up with a doctor is vital to ascertain the status of scoliosis. Earlier treatment can help prevent the development of a permanent deformity.
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Idiopathic Scoliosis in Children and Adolescents. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/idiopathic-scoliosis-in-children-and-adolescents/
Scoliosis. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/scoliosis-a-to-z
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Common Medical Abbreviations & Terms
Doctors, pharmacists, and other health-care professionals use abbreviations, acronyms, and other terminology for instructions and information in regard to a patient's health condition, prescription drugs they are to take, or medical procedures that have been ordered. There is no approved this list of common medical abbreviations, acronyms, and terminology used by doctors and other health- care professionals. You can use this list of medical abbreviations and acronyms written by our doctors the next time you can't understand what is on your prescription package, blood test results, or medical procedure orders. Examples include:
- ANED: Alive no evidence of disease. The patient arrived in the ER alive with no evidence of disease.
- ARF: Acute renal (kidney) failure
- cap: Capsule.
- CPAP: Continuous positive airway pressure. A treatment for sleep apnea.
- DJD: Degenerative joint disease. Another term for osteoarthritis.
- DM: Diabetes mellitus. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
- HA: Headache
- IBD: Inflammatory bowel disease. A name for two disorders of the gastrointestinal (BI) tract, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
- JT: Joint
- N/V: Nausea or vomiting.
- p.o.: By mouth. From the Latin terminology per os.
- q.i.d.: Four times daily. As in taking a medicine four times daily.
- RA: Rheumatoid arthritis
- SOB: Shortness of breath.
- T: Temperature. Temperature is recorded as part of the physical examination. It is one of the "vital signs."
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