Scoliosis refers to a curved or twisted spine
Scoliosis can be functional, due to, for example, differences in leg length, muscle imbalance, unilateral postures, unilateral exercise habits, or poor ergonomics. Degenerative scoliosis is also functional and occurs with sudden back pain, such as lumbago, locked facet joints of the back, or sciatica. The tension in the back muscles pull the spine into a curve.
Scoliosis can also be structural, or idiopathic, in which case its exact cause is unknown. Structural, helical scoliosis is considered genetic in relation to brain-muscle dysfunction. In light of current research of scoliosis, the curvature of the back appears to be caused by a symptom of dysregulation in the central nervous system.
In scoliosis, the cerebellum, the area of the brainstem that normally regulates position control, does not bring information (about the abnormal position) to the brain so there is no automatic position correction. It is important to remember that in scoliosis, the back muscles are not weak, they just do not get the right information.
Scoliosis can be divided into different types according to the curvature of the spine.
When the spine is curved to one side and has one bend, that is known as C-shaped scoliosis.
When the spine is curved to two sides and has two bends, that is known as S-shaped scoliosis.
Scoliosis and hunchback
In both C- and S-shaped scoliosis, the spine rotates around its axis. An indicator of this is the hump in the upper back.
Common Scoliosis symptoms
- Imbalance in the joints of the back, pelvis, and lower limbs due to a length difference in the legs
- Tilted pelvis and its resulting imbalance in the joints of the back, pelvis, and lower limbs
- Radiating pain
- Increased muscle tension
- Restricted mobility
- Imbalance in muscle strength
Scoliosis can be completely asymptomatic, though for most it does cause pain and can significantly impair function at some point in life. If symptoms persist, it is recommended to seek treatment. The most severe (idiopathic) cases of scoliosis are treated in specialist care. However, with mild and functional cases of scoliosis, instructions, and treatment to relieve pain and maintain mobility can be obtained from a physiotherapist.
Treatment of Scoliosis
It is recommended that patients with scoliosis train to maintain mobility and to strengthen their abdominal & back muscles. The training should be according to an individual exercise program developed by a physiotherapist. An important part of treatment is following a healthy lifestyle.