Scoliosis - Curvature of the Spine
Your neck contains the cervical spine. It is composed of seven small vertebrae. Your chest area contains the thoracic spine, with 12 vertebrae. The lumbar spine is located at and below your waist. It contains five large vertebrae. The remainder lower vertebrae in the spine are fused together or uniquely shaped in formation with your hip and pelvis bones.
X-rays are used to show and allow measurements of the curve in the spine. X-rays are taken from the front and sides. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans or CT scans may be used to provide more detailed images.
TreatmentSpine curvatures of less than 20 degrees are usually monitored frequently by a doctor but do not require treatment. Back bracing may be used to treat curvatures that are 25 to 30 degrees. There are many different types of back braces. They work by using pressure to straighten the spine.
Back bracing is appropriate for children with idiopathic scoliosis that are still growing but it does not work well for those with congenital or neuromuscular scoliosis.
You may be referred to physical or occupational therapy following surgery. At first your therapy will focus on basic activities, including sitting balance, endurance, standing, walking, and dressing. Your therapists will teach you exercises to build strength and maintain your posture. If you need a special seating device or wheelchair system, your therapists can custom order the equipment that is the most appropriate for you.
Surgery is usually required for spine curvatures that are greater than 40 degrees. Curves greater than 40 degrees have a high risk of getting worse, leading to potential complications. Spinal fusion surgery is used to correct the curve in the spine and connect the vertebrae together. The vertebrae are fused together with surgical hardware, such as rods and screws. A back brace may need to be temporarily worn while the spine heals. In some cases, additional surgeries may be necessary over time.
RecoveryRecovery from bracing or surgical treatments is very individualized and depends on many factors, including the extent of curvature, age, and other medical conditions. Your doctor will let you know what to expect.
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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.
The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on February 16, 2022. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.