What Is Scoliosis? Tips for Maintenance and Prevention

This article contains a video
Curated by
Whitney Bailey
Content via Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation
Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation
Curated by
Whitney Bailey

Scoliosis is the curvature of the spine, and it can be relatively painless. However, scoliosis can progress into a serious health condition. It is important to be educated about what causes scoliosis, and how to prevent or manage it from progressing.

Anatomy of the Spine

“Your spine represents the bones and nerves that make up your spinal column of your own back,” explains Dr. Steven Steins. There are three different areas of your spine, starting from the neck and ending at the pelvis. Those three areas are the cervical spine, thoracic spine, and the lumbar spine. The cervical region is located at the top of the spine, the thoracic region is the middle of the spine, and the lumbar region is at the bottom of the spine by the pelvis.

The spine is made up of segments called vertebral bodies and disks. These two segments surround the spinal cord. The spine is held together with ligaments, which are connective tissue bands that connect with the vertebrae of the spine. There are a few normal curves to the spine, but it is held in a mostly straight position by the erector spinae muscles.

Symptoms of Scoliosis

  • Back Pain
  • Problems with ribs making contact with the pelvis
  • Limited Breathing
  • Unevenness in height of person's shoulders
  • Shifted pelvis

How To Manage Scoliosis

It is important to keep the spine flexible by doing range of motion exercises. Scoliosis is diagnosed by doing an x-ray of the spine, and it is important to track the progression of the condition by having frequent x-rays as time goes on. If the scoliosis seems to be worsening, Dr. Stein recommends prescribing a brace to stabilize the spine, or changing the seating system if a person uses a wheelchair. Surgery is also an option, considering how much the scoliosis has progressed.

Do You Have Scoliosis? Steps To Follow

If you look in the mirror and notice some asymmetry in your shoulders, make sure to bring this observation up at your next doctor’s appointment. Your doctor might then take a look at your back to see if there is a noticeable s-shaped curve in your spine. Your doctor might also suggest an x-ray, as that is how scoliosis is diagnosed.

If you know you have scoliosis it is important to monitor the progression. The spine can strengthen over time, alleviating the symptoms of scoliosis. Focusing on posture and extending your back muscles could be very beneficial. Communicate with your doctors and physical therapists, as they can provide you with resources.

Be sure to share this post to educate others on this serious condition.

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