Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine. The spine may begin to curve at any age, but is much more prevalent in patients over the age of 50. Overall, this condition affects between five and seven million Americans. Most cases of scoliosis do not have an identifiable underlying cause, but the condition can also be present at birth or occur as a result of another condition.
Scoliosis may produce specific symptoms that can lower the patient’s quality of life including uneven musculature, legs or hips; imbalance; anxiety or prominent rib or shoulder blade. In some cases, the curve is severe enough to cause difficult breathing, pain and reduced functionality. These patients may also experience infections in or damage to the heart and lungs due to friction between the rib cage and these vital organs.
A physician will diagnose scoliosis with an X-ray. This imaging will allow the doctor to determine the severity of the curve. Early diagnosis is important, because spinal deformity can progress dramatically if neglected. Treatment will include physical therapy, occupational therapy and chiropractic care. If the curve is greater than 45 degrees and is likely to get worse, surgery may be the patient’s best option. 4