The Various Symptoms and Treatment Options for Different Types of Scoliosis
The spine is the body’s core structural support system. Every spine has a series of small curves that form one large curve.
Scoliosis occurs when the spine curves abnormally. A spinal curve caused by scoliosis will often look like the letter ‘C’ or ‘S.’ Contrary to popular belief, scoliosis is rarely caused by a patient’s posture. Every case of scoliosis is different and, therefore, requires its own specific treatment. To determine which method of treatment is appropriate, it is important to understand which category a case belongs to.
Understanding the different types of scoliosis
Cases of scoliosis can be categorized in three ways: functional, structural, and idiopathic. These categorizations are based on how or why the curve exists. It is important to know which category each case falls under to determine the risks and appropriate treatment.
In a nutshell, functional scoliosis describes cases in which there appears to be a spinal curve, but there is actually an irregularity elsewhere in the body. Structural scoliosis is simply a spinal curve. Idiopathic scoliosis is caused by unknown factors.
What is functional scoliosis?
Functional scoliosis occurs when the spine appears to be curved due to external factors within the body – a muscle spasm or difference in limb length, for example. The spine naturally responds to these factors by curving in an effort to maintain the body’s symmetry. This is also known as nonstructural scoliosis.
Cases of functional scoliosis can be caused by plenty of factors, including limb length differences, abnormal nerve movement, or inflammation.
Types of functional scoliosis
Cases of functional scoliosis can be further categorized into four groups: postural, compensatory, sciatic, and inflammatory.
- Postural scoliosis refers to cases caused by faulty posture.
- Compensatory scoliosis refers to cases caused by a significant difference in leg length.
- Sciatic scoliosis refers to cases caused by movement from the sciatic nerve in the lower back.
- Inflammatory scoliosis refers to cases caused by inflammation somewhere in the body, which the spine curves in response to.
Since functional scoliosis does not include a spinal curve alone, cases are treated differently from other types of scoliosis. A physiotherapist can help you determine the most appropriate avenue of treatment for your circumstances. Exercises that involve stretching muscles are most often recommended, as these can fix the initial imbalance causing the spinal curve.
What is structural scoliosis?
Structural scoliosis occurs when the spine is curved abnormally. Most cases of scoliosis fall under this category.
Cases of structural scoliosis can be caused by plenty of factors, including joint deterioration or neuromuscular conditions.
Types of structural scoliosis
Cases of structural scoliosis can be further categorized into four groups: idiopathic, degenerative, neuromuscular, and congenital.
- Idiopathic scoliosis refers to cases with an unknown cause. Read below for more information about idiopathic scoliosis.
- Degenerative scoliosis refers to cases that form in adulthood as joints deteriorate.
- Neuromuscular scoliosis refers to cases that are caused by neuromuscular conditions, like cerebral palsy.
- Congenital scoliosis refers to rare cases found in newborn babies. It is caused during pregnancy and is present upon birth.
These differences determine the pain or symptoms the patient may experience, and what treatment options are recommended.
Many treatment options are available. A physiotherapist can help you determine the most appropriate avenue of treatment for your circumstances. They will recommend treatment based on the severity of the curve or pain. Treatment may include exercises, braces, or surgery, though many cases only require monitoring.
Read More: Why It’s Never Too Late for Physiotherapy
What is idiopathic scoliosis?
Idiopathic scoliosis occurs when the spine is curved abnormally for unknown reasons. It is an extremely common categorization of structural scoliosis.
Though cases of idiopathic scoliosis occur due to no definite cause, doctors often speculate that the development of nerves, hormones, bones, and muscles may be relevant factors.
Types of idiopathic scoliosis
Cases of structural scoliosis can be further categorized into three groups: infantile, juvenile, and adolescent.
- Infantile idiopathic scoliosis refers to rare cases that are diagnosed in patients that are up to 3 years old.
- Juvenile idiopathic scoliosis refers to uncommon cases that are diagnosed in patients that are 3-9 years old.
- Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis refers to cases that are diagnosed in patients that are 10-18 years old.
Many treatment options are available. A physiotherapist can help you determine the most appropriate avenue of treatment for your circumstances. Again, they will recommend treatment based on the severity of the curve or pain. Treatment may include exercises, braces, or surgery, though many cases only require monitoring.
Each case of scoliosis is unique, offering different complexities, symptoms, and treatment options. Though it helps to know the different types of scoliosis, a physiotherapist can help you determine the appropriate route to treat your scoliosis. Contact our team of health and wellness experts to learn more and to book a free consultation.
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