Why It's So Important to Catch Scoliosis Early

Scoliosis is a condition in which your spine curves into an “S” shape. It typically happens to adolescents during puberty because growth spurts can cause spinal deformities, but adults can have the disorder, too. If it isn’t treated quickly, a patient can continue having health issues, from minor to severe, caused by a curving spine.

Doctor and founder of Access Chiropractic Center in Rock Hill, South Carolina, Jeffery Muschik, DC, is an expert in hands-on, personalized care for patients with scoliosis. From traditional therapy to cutting-edge treatments, Dr. Muschik provides gentle and safe spinal care to ensure the best spinal treatments for patients suffering from scoliosis.

What causes scoliosis?

It’s normal to have a slightly curved spine. However, if the curvature is more than 10 degrees, that’s considered a scoliosis diagnosis. The spine forms either a “C” shape or an “S” shape as it grows improperly. Unfortunately, there is no identifiable cause of scoliosis. In fact, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) states that nearly 80% of diagnosed patients experience idiopathic scoliosis. Idiopathic means there is no known cause.

The other two types of scoliosis are congenital and neuromuscular. Congenital scoliosis occurs when an infant is born with a spinal deformity. Neuromuscular scoliosis happens when there are nerve abnormalities in the brain that affect the spine.

Anyone from infant to adult can suffer from scoliosis. Some common causes are:

Signs of scoliosis

Scoliosis usually has no noticeable symptoms unless your spinal curvature worsens. Thankfully your spine doesn’t cause pain as it curves. If you discover your clothes not fitting properly like hanging unevenly on your body, that might be the first sign that something has changed.

You may have one shoulder more raised than the other, or you might see a shoulder blade sticking out. In a child’s body, the space between the torso and arms might look different on each side when you have them stand with their arms at their sides. A small curvature can rapidly grow if a child has a big growth spurt.

If the curvature is in the upper back, you may notice ribs sticking out more prominently. In women, one breast may appear larger than the other. There aren’t a lot of signs, so a self-diagnosis is not ideal.

Diagnosing scoliosis

Dr. Muschik talks to you about your concerns and examines you. He looks at your spine while you stand with arms at your side and also bent forward to find any curvature in the upper or lower back. He may order additional tests like X-rays, bone scans, MRIs, or CT scans.

If scoliosis isn’t caught and treated quickly, it can lead to back problems, compromised lung function, and even heart problems, not to mention a lifetime of pain. Early detection and treatment are crucial for prevention and recovery.

Treatment

The Scoliosis Research Society recommends three steps in treating scoliosis:

If the doctor diagnoses you or your child, the first step is simply an observation. Many spinal curvatures are mild and require no additional treatment. Dr. Muschik continues to observe the spine during frequent check-ups, and he makes a note of any changes.

Braces may be an option for your child. If they haven’t stopped growing, there is still time to correct the curvature by using a brace. This will also prevent the curve from worsening. This treatment requires the brace to be worn 16-23 hours a day until the child has reached skeletal maturity. The great news is that 80% of children with scoliosis stop the curvature from worsening when brace treatment is used correctly.

Finally, surgery can prevent scoliosis from progressing. Both adults and children can be treated with surgery. There are several kinds of surgery that can straighten the spine and prevent it from curving more.

Spinal health is essential to your wellbeing, so if you’re ready for a spinal check-up, it’s time to schedule an appointment with Dr. Muschik. You can call or use our convenient online scheduling tool. 

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