What is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a sideways curve of the spine that shows up as an “S” or “C” shape rather than a straight line down the back. It can occur in children, adolescents and adults. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, approximately two percent of the population has scoliosis.
Symptoms vary with age and severity of the curvature. Many people have some degree of curvature of the spine, or scoliosis, yet experience little or no discomfort. Those with more severe scoliosis may experience back pain, disfigurement and nerve compression that can cause numbness, weakness and leg pain, especially upon standing or walking.
Scoliosis in adults is classified into two main types:
Type I / Progressive Scoliosis – A type of scoliosis that starts out mild or non-symptomatic in young adults but worsens with age due to degenerative changes in the spine.
Type II / Adult Scoliosis – Scoliosis that begins in adulthood in response to degenerative disease of the spinal column. This type of scoliosis can progress at a much more rapid pace than in Type I Adult Scoliosis.
Does scoliosis always appear in childhood?
Most people typically think of scoliosis as a childhood disease. In fact, scoliosis is commonly diagnosed in the juvenile and adolescent stages—ages 9, 10, 11 or 12. There is, however, adult onset or degenerative scoliosis, which develops as a result of disc degeneration and is different from adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.
Is scoliosis hereditary?
Scoliosis is thought to be genetic and tends to run in families. However, with each generation, there is a variability of how strongly the genes are expressed, which determines how severe the curve may be. For example, a mother may have a mild curve, but her daughter may have a very severe curve or a mother may have a severe curve and her grandchildren may develop scoliosis, but their parents did not.
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