‘Scoliosis’ is defined as a curvature of the spine, which should normally be straight, to one side (right or left). While the condition can be congenital it can also develop during adolescence. Scoliosis has different types. The most frequently seen type of scoliosis is called ‘idiopathic’ or ‘unexplained’ because the reason for it is not completely known, and it occurs in 3 out of 100 children entering adolescence. While girls and boys are impacted equally at earlier ages the development of Scoliosis is 10 times higher in girls during adolescence. Acibadem Maslak Hospital Spine Health Center, Orthopedics and Traumatology Specialist Prof. Dr. Ahmet Alanay, warns that while there is no issue other than appearance in simple scoliosis, advanced Scoliosis can greatly restrict daily activities, cause mental problems like depression and anxiety and even permanent damage to the heart and lungs. Although scoliosis is not a preventable disease, early diagnosis and treatment can help get ahead of the problem. This is why Prof. Dr. Ahmet Alanay warns that parents should check their children, especially between the age of 9 and 16, every 6 months on a regular basis.
When growth is completed early the spine cannot keep up
One of the determining factors of Scoliosis progression is the child’s growth potential. Orthopedics and Traumatology Specialist Prof. Dr. Ahmet Alanay pointed out that the years carrying the greatest risk are the adolescent years, in which curvatures increase by one or two degrees. One of the possible reasons for scoliosis being more common in girls is because they complete their growth period a lot faster and the spine cannot adapt in such a short period. The most risky period for scoliosis is the period right before girls start menstruating when their growth is the fastest.
STEP BY STEP “SCOLIOSIS” TEST
If your child has any of the following they may have scoliosis. In this case do no neglect to seek medical advice from a doctor as soon as possible.
The 3 most important indicators
While Scoliosis may have a number of different symptoms there are 3 that we need to be especially cautious of.
- One shoulder being higher than the other.
- When one side of the lower back denting inwards while the other side is sticking out or appearing fuller.
- If while looking at your child and you ask him/her to lean forward until their spine is parallel with the floor and one side of the back looks higher than the other. This is called a “hunched” appearance. This appearance is also created by the spine revolving around itself. Sometimes a hunch on either side of the back is visible from the outside without even asking the child to bend forward.
- One shoulder blade being higher or more prominent than the other.
- When the arms are at their sides a larger gap between the arm and the body on one side.
- One buttock being higher or more prominent than the other.
- The lineup of the head not corresponding to the center of the shoulder blades.
- The body being disproportionately short compared to the legs.
- The development of balance problems.
What degrees of scoliosis are dangerous?
Prof. Dr. Ahmet Alanay explained that the intensity and type of deformity that develops in the body due to scoliosis varies according to the curvature in the spine.
- When scoliosis is 0-20 degrees it is not noticeable from the outside.
- At 20-40 degrees it is noticeable on a naked body but does not affect daily routines negatively.
- If it remains under 40 degrees at the end of adolescence it will not progress.
- Curvatures that have reached 40-50 degrees by the end of adolescence need to be monitored. Curvatures over 50 degrees continue to progress in adult years.
- Scoliosis exceeding 70-80 degrees can cause pain, loss of movement and serious, permanent damage to the heart and lungs. If these degrees are reached by the age of 10 serious degrees can be reached in adulthood and may shorten life span.