Scoliosis is a spinal disorder characterized by a curved back shape like the letter C or S. Scoliosis is more often found in children before puberty, which is around the age of 10-15 years.

Scoliosis usually causes mild complaints, but can develop more severe with age. If left untreated, very severe curvature of scoliosis can lead to joint damage and prolonged pain.

In addition, a severely curved spine also risks interfering with the lungs.

Causes of Scoliosis

In most cases, scoliosis occurs without a known cause (idiopathic). However, there are several conditions that can trigger scoliosis, namely:

  • Spinal discs and joints that wear out with age (degenerative scoliosis)
  • Congenital (congenital scoliosis)
  • Nerve and muscle disorders (neuromuscular scoliosis), such as  muscular dystrophy  or  cerebral palsy
  • Spinal injury or infection
  • Spinal defects

Scoliosis Symptoms

Scoliosis symptoms can vary, depending on the severity of the condition. However, some of the typical symptoms of scoliosis that generally arise include:

  • The spine appears to be curved
  • One shoulder is higher than the other
  • One hip sticks out more than the other
  • One of the scapula appears more prominent than the other
  • The body of a person with scoliosis leans to one side
  • Uneven waist height
  • Lower back pain
  • Stiffness in the back
  • muscle tension

Severe arches can cause back discomfort. The spine can also rotate so that the curvature gets worse and one of the ribs or muscles on one side of the body seems to stick out more than the other side.

When to see a doctor

Immediately consult yourself or your child to the doctor when you notice a curved spine. The goal is that scoliosis can be treated early. Otherwise, scoliosis can get worse slowly, eventually causing permanent complications.

Diagnosis of Scoliosis

To diagnose scoliosis, the first step taken by the doctor is to ask about the symptoms experienced, the patient's and family's medical history, and the time when the patient first noticed the appearance of spinal curvature.

Next, the doctor will carry out a physical examination. During a physical examination, the doctor will ask the patient to bend over to see if there are protruding ribs or not. The doctor will also check the condition of the nerves to find out if there are muscles that are weak, stiff, or show abnormal reflexes.

In addition to a physical examination, the doctor can also perform an X-ray and CT scan to confirm the presence of scoliosis and determine the severity of the curvature of the spine. If the doctor suspects that abnormalities in the spine are caused by other things, the doctor can do an MRI scan.

Scoliosis Treatment

Treatment of scoliosis is carried out based on the type of scoliosis, the severity and age of the patient, and the condition of the curvature of the spine.

Treatment of scoliosis in children

Treatment is not needed for mild scoliosis in children, considering that the spine can still straighten as they get older. However, the development of the disease needs to be monitored by a doctor.

Through routine examinations, doctors can find out the development of curved bone conditions. The doctor can also do an X-ray examination to monitor it.

In more severe scoliosis, the child will be asked to wear a spinal brace. Please note, this method cannot correct bone deformities or realign bones. However, using a brace can prevent the curvature of the spine from getting worse.

Braces are usually made of plastic that are worn under the arms, around the rib cage, and across the lower back and hips. The shape is adjusted to the shape of the body so that it is almost invisible when wearing clothes.

To be most effective, this brace needs to be worn all day, except when your child is playing sports. The use of a support can be stopped when the growth of the spine stops, namely:

  • Two years after girls start having menstruation
  • When the mustache or beard on the face in boys begins to grow
  • When the height does not increase anymore

Treatment of scoliosis in adults

For adult sufferers who experience severe scoliosis and often cause complaints of back pain, the doctor's therapy may include:

  • Giving pain relievers
    To relieve inflammation and pain, the doctor will give  non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.
  • Corticosteroid injections in the spinal cavity Corticosteroid injections are
    given if the patient experiences pressure on the spinal nerves so that they feel pain, stiffness or tingling. These injections only work in a short period of time, which is about a few weeks or a few months.

Scoliosis surgery

For severe cases of scoliosis, doctors can perform surgery. The surgical procedures performed can be in the form of:

  • Bone fusion
    surgery In this operation, two or more vertebrae are joined together to form one bone. Metal rods, hooks, screws, or wires will usually hold the section in place, until the bones fuse together.
  • Laminectomy
    surgery In  laminectomy surgery , part of the curved spine is removed to relieve pressure on the affected nerves.
  • Decompression
    surgery This operation removes one of the pads or discs in the spine to relieve pressure on the nerves.

The operation that is often performed in many cases of scoliosis is a combination of the above surgical techniques. Please note,  spinal surgery recovery time  usually takes up to 1 year or more to fully recover. In addition, this operation also carries a risk of complications in the form of:

  • The implant has become displaced, damaged, or loose
  • Postoperative wound infection
  • Blood clotting
  • Nerve damage

Scoliosis complications

If scoliosis gets worse and is not treated properly, complications that can arise include:

  • Prolonged back pain
  • Self-confidence decreases due to bad posture
  • Disturbances in the heart and lungs if the scoliosis is very severe
  • Damage to the spinal cord associated with other disorders, such as impotence , fecal incontinence, urinary incontinence , or weakness in the limbs

Scoliosis Prevention

Although most cases of scoliosis are a condition that cannot be prevented, people with degenerative scoliosis need to undergo a regular program of light aerobic exercise and core strength training.

The goal of the program is to strengthen the back and abdominal muscles, and help align the curvature of the spine.

Children are also encouraged to undergo routine scoliosis screening while still in high school. This scoliosis screening is an effort that can be done to detect scoliosis early.

Back to blog