Scoliosis is an extremely common condition affecting the spine. Although most cases of it are not debilitating, it can severely affect the growth and development of children. In some cases, it can result in pain and discomfort, problems with breathing, gait abnormalities, and more.
Each year, doctors diagnose scoliosis in more than three million Americans. Millions more in the United States and the rest of the world present with symptoms of the disorder.
Most patients receive a scoliosis diagnosis in their late childhood or during adolescence. However, some people may present with mild or moderate symptoms later in life, and even during adulthood. Scoliosis affects females at a higher rate than men, with some studies correlating this disparity to the use of hand and shoulder bags among women. These studies argue the regular offset loading of the skeletal system caused by daily carrying a bag on one side of the body makes it grow unnaturally curved over time.
The Severity of Scoliosis and What It Means
Doctors define scoliosis simply as a sideways or lateral curvature of the spine. Depending on several factors, this curve may take the shape of an S or a C.
For ease of classification, doctors rate scoliosis diagnoses as mild, moderate, or severe. Mild scoliosis exhibits a curvature of less than 25 degrees, and mild scoliosis exhibits a curvature of less than 40 degrees. Any curvature of the spine greater than 40 degrees falls under severe scoliosis.
Scoliosis Surgery and Its Alternatives
Doctors typically recommend surgical intervention to correct the spinal curvature in cases of severe scoliosis. They might also recommend surgery if the shape of the spine causes difficulty breathing or heart problems. Non-surgical scoliosis treatment is the main alternative to this surgery.
The type of surgery most often recommended for adolescents with scoliosis is spinal fusion. This surgery aims to reduce the curve of the spine by fusing the affected vertebrae together in one block or column. Spinal fusion stops the curve from worsening and can straighten the spine out as well.
Although scoliosis surgery is generally very effective, it also comes with considerable risks. These risks include having a life-threatening reaction to the anesthetic used during the procedure, infection, and blood loss. Problems with the nerves, bladder, or bowels may also occur in the period following your surgery.
In most cases of scoliosis, non-surgical scoliosis treatment is a preferable alternative to scoliosis surgery and all the risks it entails. The primary non-surgical treatment for scoliosis is chiropractic adjustments.
Chiropractic care relieves the symptoms of pain and discomfort associated with scoliosis by using spinal realignment to remove unnatural loading pressures on the nerves. It can also help you find ways to compensate for the abnormal spinal curvature with methods such as postural corrections.