What is Scoliosis?

spine labeledThere are three normal curvatures of the spine:

the lordotic Cervical, the kyphotic Thoracic, and lordotic Lumbar curves which help you to stand upright, walk and absorb impact and shock during activities of life.
Some people have one or two additional curves of the spine, when shown from the back appear in almost an “S” form. This is one marker of Scoliosis.     scoliosis2
There are two types of Scoliosis:Structural and Functional.
Structural Scoliosis is typically diagnosed at a young age. During a forward bend forward test a Health Care Professional will notice on one side the rib or scapula sits higher. This curvature can be Idiopathic, meaning cause unknown, or because of a bony fusion or change in the body during growth.
Functional Scoliosis is typically diagnosed later in life through similar forward bend test by a Health care Professional. This type of Scoliosis can be corrected when changing positions, or alignments of the body. Functional scoliosis can occur due to a difference in leg heights, muscle spasms, avoiding pain or through a repetitive task occurring over a long period of time.
For both types of Scoliosis, if no corrections are made the curves worsen over time. X-Rays or imaging maybe required to determine the severity of the mis alignment. Depending on the degree  of Scoliosis a patient will experience different severity of symptoms. Some symptoms include back pain; which can either be in the upper back or lower, tightness in the shoulder region, difficulty sitting or standing in one position for a long period of time, or a difference in height or the pelvis or shoulders.  Treatment depends on the direction of curvature, and severity. In some cases a brace or even surgery is required.
Both Physical therapy and Yoga can help prevent further worsening of the Scoliosis and in some cases reverse the misalignment helping to ease pain. From personal experience I can tell you both work, and helped reduce my discomfort tremendously.  If you have any questions e-mail me at berryhappybodies@gmail.com
For information view NIH’s resource page.
Contributed by Dr. Alison Cupini, DPT

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