Scoliosis

In most cases, the cause of scoliosis is unknown.

Overview

In most cases, the cause of scoliosis is unknown. It is a spinal deformity that often occurs during the growth spurt just before puberty. The body axis is asymmetrical (spine, pelvic area, etc.). Scoliosis may not cause pain initially, but can lead to complications.

Symptoms

Main symptoms

  • Body is asymmetrical
    • One hip is more prominent than the other
    • Waist triangle is asymmetrical
    • One shoulder is higher than the other
    • Upper body leans to one side
    • Ribs often stick out on one side when the patient bends over
  • Initially no pain, but unsightly
  • Tends to worsen during puberty
    • Mostly occurs during a growth spurt between the ages of 10 and 14
  • Early identification of scoliosis is important
    • This can have a beneficial effect on its progression and limit the complications

Complications

  • Signs of wear and tear (degeneration)
  • Social and psychological problems owing to the unsightly asymmetry
  • Slipped disc
  • Arthritis
  • Back pain
  • Deformity can lead to breathing and cardiovascular problems

Causes and treatment

Causes

  • In 90% of cases: idiopathic scoliosis
    • Causes remain unclear
    • Genetic factors are suspected
    • Gender: girls are affected more often
  • Growth imbalance between the front and back sections of the spine
  • Oblique pelvis, difference in leg length >2 cm
  • Neuromuscular scoliosis
    • Muscular diseases (e.g. Duchenne muscular dystrophy)
    • Disorders of the nervous system (syringomyelia, cerebral palsy, after spinal cord injury causing paraplegia, after poliomyelitis)
    • Metabolic diseases
  • Congenital scoliosis: congenital deformity of the spine and ribs
  • No effect: poor posture, asymmetrical sports activities (e.g. fencing)

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Growth prediction by assessing carpal bones
  • Measurement of spine curvature (Cobb angle)
  • Forward bend test
Possible therapies
  • Regular follow-up checks: every six months during pubertal growth
  • Physiotherapy
  • Corset treatment
  • Operation (for severe scoliosis)

What can I do myself?

  • Targeted prevention isn't possible
  • Forward bend test to check the spinal curve in children:
    • Child bends forward with a naked torso
    • Arms hang down loosely
    • Can you see a rib hump? (ribs sticking out on one side of the spine)

When to see a doctor?

  • Abnormal growth of the spine is suspected (e.g. following a forward bend test)
  • Back pain doesn't improve
  • Oblique pelvis, difference in leg length

Further information

Verein Skoliose Schweiz (Swiss Scoliosis Association)
www.skoliose-schweiz.ch

Skoliose Ortho-Team (Scoliosis Ortho Team)
www.skoliose.ch

Synonyms

scoliosis, spinal curvature, idiopathic scoliosis, idiopathic adolescent scoliosis

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CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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