What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is the outcome of a progressive 3D deformation of the spine.

  • Scoliosis affects between 2 and 3% of the population.
  • Among the most severe scoliosis cases, 8 out of 10 are young females.
  • Scoliosis typically begins in childhood or adolescence. Although it can be detected at all ages, risk of curve progression is
    most during the adolescent years as it is directly related to growth.
  • A rotation of the vertebra and the rib cage usually accompanies this unhealthy curve. Most scoliosis patients are diagnosed
    between ages 12 and 16, although there are many adults who suffer from the disease as well.
  • In more than 80% of the cases, the real cause of scoliosis remains unknown; this is why it’s called IDIOPATHIC. There are
    many hypotheses being studied by researchers. Heredity and growth control mechanisms are the main focus for modern
    research.  At the moment, there is no scientific consensus on the precise cause and progression factors for idiopathic
  • If untreated, most severe scoliosis deformations have mid and long-term consequences on:
  1. Vital functions: respiratory and cardiac pathology
  2. Locomotion: pain and mobility limitation
  3. Aesthetic: hunchbacked aspect and short trunk

Left untreated, scoliosis can worsen and cause disfigurement, respiratory and digestive problems, and debilitating pain.
Ribcage Deformation – Can it be limited?

Scoliosis is a three dimensional deformity characterized by excessive rotation of the spinal bones (vertebrae) as well as lateral bending. When the apex of the curvature is in the thoracic spine, the rotational component of the deformity causes the ribcage to rotate just as the spinal bones do, thereby causing the signature “rib hump”. Corrective procedures should include de-rotation of the ribcage as well as the spinal bones in order to reduce the ribcage deformity.

Scoliosis diagnosis

  • Detected by visual inspection and confirmed by an X-ray of your back.
  • It is important to follow-up on the evolution of the curvature, especially during childhood. This monitoring should be done
    every 3 to 6 months.
  • Scoliosis is quantified by the measurement of the angle of your spine curvature on the X-ray – called the Cobb angle.

Should you recognise any of these possible symptoms, contact your family doctor.

Normal (fig. 1)Normal (fig. 1)

  •      head centred over mid-buttocks
  •     shoulders level
  •     shoulder blades level, with equal prominence
  •     hips level and symmetrical
  •     equal distance between arms and body

Possible Scoliosis (fig. 2)

  •     head alignment to one side of mid buttocks
  •     one shoulder higher
  •     one shoulder blade higher with possible prominence
  •     one hip more prominent than the other
  •     unequal distance between arms and body

Normal (fig. 3)

  •      both sides of upper and lower back symmetrical
  •     hips level and symmetrical

Possible Scoliosis (fig. 4)

  •     one side of rib cage and/or the lower back showing uneven symmetry

Normal (fig. 5)

  •     even and symmetrical on both sides of the upper and lower back

Possible Scoliosis (fig. 6)

  •     unequal symmetry of the upper back, lower back or both