By Ana Theresa Williams,BSN,RN
Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Yue Wai Mun of Gleneagles Hospital and Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital in Singapore said scoliosis refers to the abnormal side-to-side curvature of the spine.
Dr. Yue said that in many cases, it is more than that. There can sometimes be abnormal rotation of the spine. In other words, the spine can be twisted as well.
He said there are several types of scoliosis: Some are congenital due to some abnormal formation of the bones of the spine while others are developmental and develop in the growing years due to different growth rates of the two sides of the spine.
The medical expert further explained that these do have some genetic influence as well. Yet others are degenerative in origin, with both sides of the spine degenerating differently, resulting in scoliosis.
Scoliosis is very common among women. “Yes, it is true that scoliosis occurs more commonly in women than in men,” he said.
“Patients with scoliosis rarely have pain except in some patients with degenerative scoliosis. The latter may have back pain or even pain radiating down from one or both legs due to nerve impingement. Most patients may notice body asymmetry or their friends and family may point these out to them. They have unequal shoulders and waist levels. And when they bend forward, others may notice that they have a hump on one side of their back.”
Dr. Yue said the treatment depends on the severity and the symptoms. “Mild scoliosis with no symptoms may only require observation while some patients with early scoliosis may benefit from wearing a brace. This is especially beneficial in patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis during the time when they still have plenty of growth potential left.”
Surgery is effective, but only necessary for those patients with severe progressive deformity or with severe disability due to nerve impingement, he said.
Finally, the orthopedic surgeon said those children with severe progressive deformity that have been left untreated may even develop organ failure from lack of space for organ development due to the deformity. But there are some patients who may have scoliosis and will have a normal life. Thus, it is best to have the deformity assessed earlier by a qualified specialist doctor once it is suspected, he concluded.