By nature, the spine will bend forward and backward slightly over time, to keep the body balanced. When you bend over, you will notice that the spine is in a straight line. If your spine is curved and the bones are twisted out sideways to the right or left, then this will cause your shoulders, waist and hips to become uneven. A curved spine can affect any part of the body, but most of the areas affected in children are at the top of the spine. In adults, it generally affects the lower back.
There are two objectives to treating scoliosis
In cases where the curved angle of the spine is not significant, and there is little to no pain, scoliosis can be treated by taking painkillers and wearing a back brace, which increases flexibility. This helps reduce compression, and curvature of the spine, but symptoms should be monitored with a checkup every six months.
In children, it is generally recommended that surgery should not be performed until the spine has fully developed. In some cases, however, it might be necessary to operate immediately before the curvature of the spine becomes too great and causes other complications. In women who endure great amounts of discomfort and pain in the legs, the main objectives of surgery are:
The most important part of surgery on a curved spine is the process of stretching the spine and making sure it is stretched to a length that is correct and appropriate. If it is too straight or stretched, this can affect the spinal cord and cause paralysis of the legs. If it is not stretched enough, then there is a risk of the curvature occurring on another part of the spine.
Previous surgical treatment for scoliosis did not involve using metal but instead, a cast that went around the body, to straighten the spine. The cast would be cut in one part to allow surgery on the curved part of the spine. After that, a metal rod would be placed to hold the spine in place so that the cast could be put on. Once it was healed, the cast would be taken off. To this day, doctors attach metal to the spine by using bolts and screws. The metal does not have to be removed, meaning the patient not having to go through the pain of another operation.
Possible complications include bleeding, pain, infection and nerve damage. Surgery normally brings about positive results, such as a straighter back, a taller posture and level shoulders.
Although a seated or standing posture will not cause scoliosis, it can tend to make the bones slip or lean the wrong way.
Some types of exercise can make the symptoms worse, such as yoga, pilates, and gymnastics, as well as activities that require moving or twisting of the spine, or uneven weight-bearing, such as regularly wearing a backpack on one shoulder; plus many more.
Scoliosis can be a problem, but there is no need to worry, because nowadays, medical science has advanced greatly, to the point that it can be treated far more effectively. If you understand what this disease is and how it can be managed, then you can have more confidence in the treatment.
M.D., Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, 1961.