4 Things to Know About Scoliosis
To this day, there are still some misconceptions about scoliosis (for example, it’s not true that carrying heavy bags causes this spine condition). Let’s set the facts straight by answering four common questions about scoliosis.
- What is scoliosis?
A normal spine, when viewed from behind, looks straight. But a spine affected by scoliosis shows a side-to-side curvature, with the spine looking like an “S” or “C.” The back bones (vertebrae) may also be rotated. This makes it look like the person is leaning to one side. Scoliosis is defined as a curvature of the spine measuring 10° or greater.
- What causes the spine to curve?
In most cases, the cause of scoliosis is not known. But in some instances, scoliosis may be caused by a breakdown of the spinal discs. This can occur with arthritis, osteoporosis, or as a hereditary condition that runs in families.
- How can I tell if I have scoliosis?
These are the most common symptoms of scoliosis:
- Difference in shoulder height
- Head is off-center from the rest of the body
- Difference in hip height or position
- Difference in shoulder blade height or position
- When standing straight, difference in the way the arms hang beside the body
- When bending forward, the sides of the back look different in height
The symptoms of scoliosis may look like other health problems. Always see your provider for a diagnosis.
- How is scoliosis diagnosed?
In addition to a full health history and physical exam, X-rays are the main tool for diagnosing scoliosis. The health care provider will measure the degree of spinal curvature on the X-ray.
Other tests may be done as well, such as an MRI or CT scan.
Straight Talk About Curved Spines
Early detection of scoliosis is most important for successful treatment. If you’re concerned about your spine (or your child’s spine), be sure to start a conversation with a physician who can help. Click below to learn more about what WCHN orthopedists have to offer.