Scoliosis Of The Spine

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Scoliosis Of The Spine

Scoliosis of the spine is just another fancy name for classical scoliosis. Actually, scoliosis of the spine can be considered a pleonasm, because scoliosis literally means "backbone curvature". The textbook definition of scoliosis of the spine is the following one: a disorder that causes an unnatural bend (or curvature) of the backbone. There are several types of scoliosis of the spine out there, but the two most important ones are kyphosis (where the spine is bent forward if you look at it from the side) and lordosis (where the spine is bent outward if you observe the backbone from the side). Unfortunately, neither of these comes alone and some sort of additional complication always appears on the side. The most common one is the one where the vertebrae rotate like screws and end up in some rather unpleasant anatomical positions, making scoliosis of the spine all that more painful.

There is much to be said about scoliosis, but the most important thing to remember is that scoliosis of the spine is a disease that prefers to manifest itself in girls, rather than boys and, while it can be found in people of any age, it usually becomes visible if the person is older than ten. In children younger than ten, the bend of the backbone can be blamed on posture and can be fixed if the child is thought how to sit or stand properly. However, once they turn ten, that curvature should not be ignored anymore, because it might degenerate into something else entirely. Also, another aspect of this disease is that it is hereditary. That basically means that if your parents had scoliosis, you will develop some for of scoliosis of the spine at some point in your life. The angle of the spine is not hereditary, however.

Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent scoliosis because no one knows what is causing it. It belongs to a special class of illnesses called idiopathic (without identifiable cause). There are many ways to classify classic scoliosis, but two of the most common ones are: classification by age of the patient and classification by type of damage.

When talking about classifying scoliosis by the age of the patient, the categories are the following:

  • Infantile idiopathic scoliosis: if the sufferer is less than three years old, then the scoliosis is severe, but often completely curable. At such an early age, the child's bones are not completely formed and, with the proper support and care, he or she can grow properly.
  • Juvenile idiopathic scoliosis: when the child is between the ages of three and ten, the developed scoliosis tends to be a tad on the painful side because the child's muscles are not as malleable as they used to be. Braces continue to be the best way of fixing this type of scoliosis.
  • Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis: after the age of ten, the child, now a teenager will develop adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. This is the moment when medical gymnastics should be introduced to the patient, beside the braces.

Scoliosis of the spine: the type of damage criterion

       The most important criterion of classification for scoliosis has to the one describing the type of damage done to the backbone:

  • Functional: in this case, the spine should develop normally, but due to damage done somewhere else in the body (one leg being shorter than the other, a permanent muscle spasm), the patient cannot keep a perfect posture. Thus, a bend in the backbone develops to counteract the preexistent problem and scoliosis is born.
  • Neuromuscular: this type of scoliosis presents in people with birth defects and muscular dystrophy. When talking about neuromuscular scoliosis, the problem is in the formation of the bones: they either do not form at all or they simply form in the wrong parts of the backbone.
  • Degenerative: this is the only type of scoliosis that appears only in adults. These patients do not have a history of scoliosis, because their health issue is related to arthritis, not to genetics. Due to arthritis, the ligaments that help the spine to be straight, weaken and force the bend to appear.