FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT IS SCOLIOSIS?
The term “scoliosis” is commonly used to describe a sideways curve in the spine. However, it is more accurate to think of scoliosis as a helix. It is three-dimensional, and affects more than just the spine. Scoliosis can also affect the lungs, muscles, brain, and other parts of the body.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE SCOLIOSIS?
Most people suspect scoliosis from postural evaluations, although x-rays are the only way to detect scoliosis for certain. Screening for scoliosis is most commonly done with the Adam’s Forward Bending Test. There is also new research being done on tests that can help identify if a person is at risk for developing scoliosis.
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF LIVING WITH SCOLIOSIS?
The experience of living with scoliosis varies from person to person. One person with severe scoliosis might not have any noticeable pain or problems, while another person with mild scoliosis can have pain and poor lung function. Generally, more severe scoliosis is associated with more chronic pain and disability. Side effects associated with scoliosis often include pain in the neck, back, hips, and legs, as well as headaches. It can cause changes in posture and the symmetry of the body, and also influence the function of organs such as the lungs.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY SCOLIOSIS WILL GET WORSE?
It’s very difficult to predict whether or not a specific case of scoliosis will worsen. Typically, larger curves in younger patients have the greatest risk, and smaller curves in older patients have the least. Most cases of scoliosis above 25 degrees should be considered to be at risk for worsening over time, especially if the spine is still growing.
IS SCOLIOSIS PAINFUL?
Scoliosis is not typically painful, although it can lead to pain over time. Muscle pain is more common in people with scoliosis, especially older adults. However, sharp, localized pain along the spine can be a warning sign of a more serious underlying condition. If you are experiencing pain and are concerned it may be related to your scoliosis, please consult with a scoliosis specialist.
WHAT IS THE CAUSE OF SCOLIOSIS?
In 80% of cases, scoliosis is termed idiopathic, which means that no direct cause can be found. Scoliosis can be caused by congenital malformations in the bones of the spine, neuromuscular disorders such as cerebral palsy, and by instances of trauma such as motor vehicle crashes and some surgeries.
IS SCOLIOSIS GENETIC?
Scoliosis is familial, which means it has a tendency to run in families. It has been associated with various genes, but the condition of scoliosis is not truly genetic.