Having problems with your back? It could be that you have a condition called scoliosis. While it may not be too much of an issue right now, it can cause a lot of trouble further down the line.
This article will explain what scoliosis is, early signs that you or someone you know may have it and the symptoms expected if it hasn’t been identified.
What Is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is the sideways curvature of the spine. Most people affected by the condition only experience mild symptoms, meaning that no surgery or other treatments are necessary. In fact, they will be able to live with their scoliosis without suffering any future problems.
However, someone that has severe scoliosis can experience a lot of pain and discomfort from simple daily activities. In rare cases, the curvature of the spine caused by scoliosis can reduce the amount of space within the chest. In turn, this makes it difficult to breathe as the lungs are not able to function properly.
If not identified early, it may be too late to be treated, leading to permanent deformity, disc damage, and even neurological damage.
This makes it vital to detect the issue early to improve the chances of making a recovery and living a normal life. Here are some of the early signs of scoliosis.
Early Detection Signs For Scoliosis
So now that we know what it is, it;’s time to look at the most common signs that you or someone you know may have the condition.
During the early stages, there are four main signs:
Clothes not fitting properly;
Observing the curvature first-hand.
This is one of the earliest possible signs of scoliosis. As the spine grows along its curve, it forces the shoulders, waist and hips out of their natural positions. You will be able to see the abnormal posture before the curve in the spine becomes visible itself.
Some of the visible signs include:
Uneven shoulders or one shoulder blade sticking out;
Unproportional hips, with one pushed higher or more pronounced compared to the other;
A titled rib cage or the ribs sticking out while bending forwards;
Tilted eye lines or the centre of the eyes not being aligned with the centre of the hips;
Misalignment of the ears compared to the shoulder (this can be seen from a side-on view);
The body leaning out to one side;
One leg appearing longer than the other;
Limping while walking
Abnormal posture is a symptom and not a cause of scoliosis. The reason is that the brain fails to realize that the body’s posture is out of alignment. This results with the muscles failing to correct the spinal curvature, meaning that the spine continues to grow abnormally.
Fatigue after simply standing or sitting can be an early sign of scoliosis. As the curve becomes more and more pronounced, the muscles around the spine have to work harder to keep the body balanced. The more they work, the more they tire. If not detected early, they can become weak, leading to increased pressure on the chest and it could become difficult to breathe, resulting in severe fatigue.
Clothes Not Fitting Properly
In a lot of case, scoliosis can first be noticed from a passing comment, such as clothes not fitting as they should do. When putting on a shirt or blouse, it can appear uneven and could be worth investigating that it is indeed scoliosis that is responsible.
Observing Sideways Curvature
Finally, you may just be able to see the sideways curvature for yourself, whether it’s in the mirror at home or seeing it in a friend’s or family member’s back while swimming or at the beach. While it may just be a subtle curve, it’s something definitely talking to them about and seeing if they experience discomfort.
Symptoms Of Severe Scoliosis
If the early detection signs for scoliosis are not identified in a timely manner, the symptoms can worsen. Here are some of the more common symptoms.
Changes with walking.
As the spine twists and curves, it can reach a point that the hips come out of normal alignment. This can have an effect on the way someone walks as their body will try to compensate the balance lost from uneven hips. Your legs will start to tire more easily too. You may even notice that one of your hands or arms start to brush against your side while the other does not.
Reduced Range Of Motion
Because the spine is twisting, it may become unable to move around as freely, resulting in reduced range of motion. You may not be able to lean to one side as far as the other, twisting your body one way will be more difficult than the other and bending over will also be tough - maybe even impossible.
If the curvature in the spine is too great, the rib cage can start to twist and put pressure on the space the lungs have to inflate and deflate. This can make breathing difficult, leading to shortness in breath or being unable to carry out tasks without feeling fatigued. In some cases, the bones of the rib cage itself can push against the lungs, again putting excess pressure on them and making it more difficult to breathe.
As is the case for the lungs, since the rib cage is dealing with excess pressure, there becomes less room for the heart to function, potentially hampering the amount of blood that can be pumped around the body.
While this may not be deemed as important by some people, its importance should never be overlooked. Mental health suffered by those with spinal deformities is just as important as physical problems. Scoliosis can cause someone to have low self-esteem, potentially leading to anxiety and depression.
It’s important to identify the signs of scoliosis early on. If you or you know anyone that has any of these symptoms, be sure to contact your doctor as soon as possible.