What is Scoliosis?
In the condition known as scoliosis the spinal column bends towards either the left or the right side. This curvature can be moderate to severe and can affect any part of the spine, but the most common are the chest area or the lower back. In 80% of scoliosis cases the causes are not known and when this ailment occurs in childhood, usually no treatment is required as the spine straightens on its own as the child grows into an adult. In cases where treatment is required a back brace is prescribed and it is quite effective although there are very few patients who may require surgery. It is very important to treat scoliosis as otherwise it can lead to serious spine, chest, heart, lung and pelvis damage.
Types of Scoliosis
Let us look at the types of scoliosis both in terms of age and the location of the curve.
Scoliosis types by age:
- Infantile scoliosis – occurring from birth to 3 years of age
- Juvenile scoliosis – occurring between the ages of 3 years and 9 years
- Adolescent scoliosis – occurring between ages of 10 years to 18 years
80% of cases of scoliosis are adolescent scoliosis because this is the age range when there is rapid growth of the body.
Scoliosis types by spinal curvature:
- Dextroscoliosis – This is the most common type of scoliosis in which the spine bends towards the right and this usually occurs in the thoracic spine. It can be on its own forming a C shape or with an opposite curve in the lower spine forming an S shape.
- Levoscoliosis – This is the type of ailment in which the spine bends towards the left. Although this condition is common in the lumbar spine it rarely occurs in the thoracic spine and if it does it is a strong indication of spinal cord tumor
Scoliosis types by location of the curve:
- Thoracic scoliosis – In this condition the curve is in the middle of the spine and is the most common location
- Lumbar scoliosis – In this condition the curve is in the lower part of the spine
- Thoracolumbar scoliosis – in this condition the vertebrae of both the lower thoracic region as well as the upper lumbar portion of the spine are involved
What Causes Scoliosis?
In 80% of cases the scoliosis is idiopathic, which means that there is no known cause of the problem. However, in some cases the causes may be known:
- Neuromuscular conditions – These conditions are the ones which affect the muscles and nerves and almost 20% of scoliosis cases are caused by these conditions like muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy. In these cases the patient will not be able to stay upright which further prevents the proper growth of the spine.
- Congenital scoliosis – This is a rare condition which is present at birth and is caused because the spinal bones develop abnormally when the fetus is in the womb
- Genes – The gene GPR126 is associated with the growth and development of the spinal column during childhood and this is the first gene associated with idiopathic scoliosis.
- Length of legs – If one leg is shorter than the other the person can develop scoliosis
- Other causes – Wrong posture, using satchels or backpacks and improper exercise can also cause scoliosis.
Scoliosis Symptoms and Signs
Signs and symptoms in children
- The shoulders may not be at the same height
- Head may not be directly centered above the pelvis
- Ribcage will not be symmetrical and the ribs could be at different heights
- One shoulder blade may be more prominent and higher than the other
- One hip may be more prominent than the other
- Clothes may not hang properly
- The person may tend to lean towards one side
- Uneven length of legs
Signs and symptoms in babies
- One side of the chest may be bulging out
- The baby will probably constantly lie curved to one side
In cases that are more severe the lungs and heart may not function properly and the person can experience chest pain and shortness of breath. In majority of the cases scoliosis is painless, but there may be back pain in some cases.
Diagnosis and Tests for Scoliosis
Usually the doctor conducts a physical exam of the spine, ribs, shoulders and hips. This initial diagnosis is done by a primary physician who will then refer the patient to an orthopedic surgeon. The different tests done for the diagnosis of scoliosis are:
- Imaging scans – This is done with the help of X rays in order to determine the direction, shape, angle and location of the curve in the spine. In case of severe symptoms an MRI or CT scan may also be prescribed
- Bone scan – For this test a radioactive material is injected into the blood which in turn travels to the affected parts of the bones and become visible on a special instrument called a scanner.
Treatment for Scoliosis
In majority of children with scoliosis no treatment is needed as the spine straightens out as the child grows. If the case is severe then the doctor may recommend any of the following treatments:
- Casting – This is done with the help of a brace made of plaster of Paris which guides the spine back to its normal shape and position. This cast is attached to the outside of the body and as the child is growing will have to be changed often.
- Braces – In cases where the curvature is moderate and the bones are still growing braces may be recommended. However, these only prevent further curvature but will not reverse the one that is already present. These braces are worn all the time and the more the patient wears the braces the better the results are.
- Surgery (spinal fusion) – In some severe cases the curvature of the spine can become worse over time and in such cases the doctor may advise spinal fusion surgery. In this surgery at least two vertebrae are connected using a bone graft and this reduces the spinal curvature and stops it from getting worse.
Expected Results after Surgery
People with fusion surgery treatment are able to go back to school or work in 2 to 4 weeks. In fact they are able to resume complete activities within a few months and within 9 to 10 months they are even able to go back to strenuous activities like gymnastics, soccer and basketball.
Cost of Scoliosis Surgery in India
Cost of scoliosis surgery in India like all other surgical and medical treatments is very low compared to that in other more advanced countries. This is the reason that people from all over the world come to India for more complex surgical procedures. Another reason is that the medical and surgical treatment available in India is comparable to the best in the world.
How IndianMedTrip Assist you?
IndianMedTrip is a medical tourism company which specializes in facilitating medical and hospital facilities for people traveling to India for treatment of scoliosis. Often these people are very keen to get treatment done in India but are unable to locate proper hospitals and doctors. We act as a connecting link between the patients and the medical professionals in India.