Some 6-9 million people in the United States have scoliosis. Some of them never have any issues, but others require surgical intervention. There are many different types of scoliosis, and the condition is generally classified by cause. However, about 80% of cases are idiopathic which means the cause is unknown.
At Dr. Louis Keppler & Associates, the spinal specialists on our staff have a deep understanding and thorough knowledge of scoliosis. One of their consistent recommendations is that your spine and posture should be regularly monitored if you have scoliosis. This post explains why.
For those diagnosed in childhood
The majority of cases of scoliosis are diagnosed in children between the ages of 10 and 15 years old. Although boys and girls are equally likely to develop scoliosis, girls are much more likely -- eight times more likely -- to progress to a curve that requires treatment.
When scoliosis is diagnosed in a child who is still growing, it’s especially important for their doctor to monitor their spine to make sure the curve isn’t progressing. If the curve does continue to progress, bracing is the first line of treatment.
Your spine has natural curves, but those curves are in what is called the sagittal plane. They exist to keep your body aligned properly and work as shock absorbers. An abnormal curve occurs in the coronal plane. When you have a curve of 10 degrees or more in the coronal plane, you have scoliosis.
A significant curve is one that is 25-30 degrees, while a curve that’s 45-50 degrees is considered severe and warrants more aggressive treatment. When scoliosis is diagnosed in a person who has a growing and changing spine, it should be closely monitored with regular checkups and imaging tests.
Scoliosis in adults
Just as with scoliosis in children, there are many different possible causes for the condition to develop in adulthood. But, two causes are most common: worsening of existing scoliosis or degenerative scoliosis.
The fact that you may have scoliosis in adolescence and not have any problems, but the curve can progress later in adulthood, is a good reason to continue having your spine and posture monitored over time throughout your life.
If you develop degenerative scoliosis as an adult, there’s a good chance you won’t know it until you have specific tests. It happens when the discs between your vertebrae wear in such a way that the load your spine carries is unbalanced, leading to a curve.
The symptoms of degenerative scoliosis include low back pain, numbness in your arms, or a changing appearance. Since those symptoms occur in numerous other conditions, it may require the skill and knowledge of a spine specialist to diagnose your scoliosis.
It’s important for your doctor to monitor your spine and posture, because your spine will continue to change under the influence of time and gravity. Physical therapy and other conservative treatments can help slow the progression, but if it continues, surgical intervention may be necessary.
If you’ve been diagnosed with scoliosis or have reason to suspect you may have it, schedule an appointment with one of our specialists at Dr. Louis Keppler & Associates in Independence, Ohio.