“Skoliosis” = Ancient Greek term meaning “a bending”
“Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is three-dimensional deformity of the spine.”1 The cause of AIS is unknown.
AIS occurs in persons that have not reached skeletal maturity. Skeletal maturity is the age of the bone when they finish growth as a young adult.
AIS is a rare spinal deformity affecting 2% to 3% of the general population, and the deformity may continue into adulthood.1
CAN YOU SEE SCOLIOSIS?
When you examine a standing person from behind (postural view) and inspect their spine with no shirt on, the spine should appear vertically straight from head to hips, and positioned in the center of the body. A spine that has one or more curves to either the left or right indicates possible scoliosis. BUT WAIT! A small curve is not scoliosis (Cobb’s angle of <10°). When the curve is LARGER, there may be a concern for progression.
If you perform this simple observation on a child or adolescent and you see a curve, should you do nothing? No, this person with the curve should be properly screened and assessed for scoliosis by a doctor or chiropractor. Early detection is imperative. Especially, before the adolescent reaches skeletal maturity.
WHAT IS A CONSIDERED A SCOLIOSIS (AKA LARGE) CURVE?
Your doctor or physical therapist (chiropractor or physiotherapist) assessed the x-ray films and informed that you have a Cobb’s angle of x°…what does that mean???
That number (x°) will indicate if you have scoliosis or not. Radiologists or chiropractors can measure the spinal deformity, aka curve, which can be measured then identified on an x-ray image. This equation is called the Cobb’s angle. A Cobb’s angle measurement of 10° or more is considered scoliosis.
LEVELS OF SPINAL DEFORMITY ACCORDING TO COBB’S ANGLE 2
- 10-25° Mild scoliosis
- 26-40° Moderate scoliosis
- >50° Severe scoliosis
SIGNS OF SCOLIOSIS
Most of the signs are viewed from BEHIND (posterior) the person, although you can observe from other views (cardinal planes) as well. Usually, the obvious signs are comparing RIGHT from LEFT. The right side of the body should be a mirror image of the left, other signs of scoliosis include:3
- Side-ways curve of the spine
- Uneven back musculature from right to left
- Uneven shoulder height
- Uneven shoulder blade height
- Uneven rib prominence
- Uneven height of the hip from right to left
- Uneven leg lengths
SYMPTOMS OF SCOLIOSIS4
- No pain (asymptomatic) or
- Pain in back, shoulders, neck, and buttock
- Respiratory and/or cardiac problems in severe cases
- Limited mobility
“While AIS can progress during growth and cause a surface deformity, it is usually not symptomatic.” 1
“However, in adulthood, if the final spinal curvature surpasses a certain critical threshold, the risk of health problems and curve progression is increased.” 1
1.Romano, M., Minozzi, S., Zaina, F., Saltikov, J. B., Chockalingam, N., Kotwicki, T., Hennes, A., & Negrini, S. (2013). Exercises for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis: a Cochrane systematic review. Spine, 38(14), E883-E893.
2.Białek, M. (2011). Conservative treatment of idiopathic scoliosis according to FITS concept: presentation of the method and preliminary, short term radiological and clinical results based on SOSORT and SRS criteria. Scoliosis, 6(1), 25.
3.Berdishevsky, H., Lebel, V. A., Bettany-Saltikov, J., Rigo, M., Lebel, A., Hennes, A., Romano, M., Białek, M., M’hango, A., Betts, T., de Mauroy, J. C., & and Durmala, J (2016). Physiotherapy scoliosis-specific exercises–a comprehensive review of seven major schools. Scoliosis and Spinal Disorders, 11(1), 20.
4.Weiss, HR (2003). Conservative Treatment of Idiopathic Scoliosis With Physical Therapy and Orthoses. Orthopade 32 (2), 146-156.