A disorder that causes an abnormal curvature of the spine is called scoliosis. Patients with this disorder develop curves to either side of the spine which cause the bones of the spine to twist forming a "C" or an "S" shape. It is commonly seen in patients over of the age of ten, although it can be seen in younger children, and is twice as common in girls as boys. This disorder is hereditary, and the severity of the curve varies from generation to generation.
The most common symptom of this disorder is the abnormal curve of the spine which typically occurs slowly over time and may not be noticeable until it becomes more severe. It may cause clothes to fit improperly, may cause the head to appear off center or one hip or shoulder to be higher than the other. The heart and lungs may not function properly if the scoliosis is severe causing shortness of breath and chest pain, although it is typically not painful.
Doctors may order imaging tests such as x-rays, MRI or CT scans in order to confirm a diagnosis after completing a thorough physical exam. Cases are characterized as mild, moderate or severe. Most cases are mild and do not require any treatment only requiring checkups every six months to determine if there have been changes in the curves. Moderate cases when the bones are still growing may require a brace. Braces do not cure the condition or reverse the curve, but they typically prevent further progression of the curve. After the bones stop growing, braces are discontinued. Severe cases worsen over time, and doctors may recommend surgery. Spinal fusion is the most common type of surgery for this condition. The physicians at AOK spine and pain aim to halt the progression of scoliosis before it gets worse.