What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis defines curvatures of the spine when it is looked from the front or from the behind. The body is bent to the side. Therefore, usually, one shoulder is higher from the other one. Sometimes a hunchback is observed on one side of the back, especially when the patient leans forward. Here, the ribs on the back of the rib cage have an asymmetrical protrusion towards the back. Scoliosis should not be confused with kyphosis. Kyphosis is an increase in the curvature of the backbone, sometimes the neck and lumbar spine, while looking at the spine from the side. Sometimes scoliosis and kyphosis may be seen together.

Children who are detected with scoliosis are first examined for possible other spinal developmental anomalies. In these children, pathologies such as discrete spinal cord syndrome (diastematomyelia) and tethered cord syndrome may be seen sometimes. Scoliosis may show symptoms in children and adolescents as externally visible curvatures in the body, different alignment levels of the shoulders or dislocation and hunchback of the back which becomes evident when leaning forward. In adult and elderly scoliosis, the complaint is usually low back and leg pain, gait disturbance, and balance problems. It may cause symptoms such as posture (standing) and balance disruption.

Patients suspected of scoliosis usually require radiological examination after medical examination. The examination usually begins with scoliosis radiography. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is used for a detailed examination of the spinal cord and soft tissues, and Computed Tomography (CT) is used for a detailed examination of the bones. Scoliosis in the thoracic region (back) may cause narrowing of the rib cage and respiratory distress as a result of decreased lung capacity, especially in children. It may be necessary to perform breath tests on these patients.

Some scoliosis is followed-up with conservative treatment, while others require surgical treatment. While it is sometimes necessary to offer corsets to the scoliosis patients who are followed-up, they are sometimes taken into exercise programs by physical therapists.

Scoliosis are examined in various classifications. Scoliosis that develop in unknown cases in childhood is called idiopathic scoliosis. Scoliosis linked to neurological or muscular diseases called neuromuscular scoliosis. Scoliosis due to spinal developmental anomalies present at birth is called congenital scoliosis, and adult scoliosis that is seen with degeneration in older people is called adult degenerative scoliosis.