Scoliosis: Types, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis And Treatment

People with Scoliosis
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

Scoliosis is a painful condition wherein the spine has a sideway curvature. The majority of the Scoliosis cases are reported before puberty, during the growing years. The exact cause for Scoliosis is still unknown, however; it can result due to Cerebral Palsy or Muscular Dystrophy.

Unlike Cancer or Diabetes, Scoliosis remains relatively unknown. As per the statistics 5-7 million of people are suffering from Scoliosis in America. And girls are more susceptible than boys as the disease ratio stands at 2:1 respectively. Scoliosis cannot be cured permanently, but it can be managed effectively. Hence, people with Scoliosis can lead a normal life with normal activities.

But leading a normal life is not devoid of pain and sufferings. In this article, we intend to let our readers know about certain factors that are often overlooked when it comes to people with Scoliosis. Understanding the people with Scoliosis can help them to manage their disease better*.

1. Scoliosis is Not That Serious

People who think “it is not like its cancer” should understand that Scoliosis cannot be cured, and it inflicts a lot of pain and discomfort. As a person grows his or her, Scoliosis may worsen. Scoliosis makes the patient unable to perform certain activities in his or her lifetime. Hence, Scoliosis cannot be compared with other diseases, in fact, it is equally damaging.

2. “You Need To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone”

If people with Scoliosis are avoiding certain activities, it is not because they do not want to come out of their comfort zone, but it’s due to the crushing pain that they experience. They have to keep a tab on every movement of their body such as stretching, pulling, etc. As if the existing pain is not enough, any pull or tug of the muscle in the body can be excruciating.

3. Scoliosis is a Disability

Disability is a condition that limits physical movements and senses. Severe cases of Scoliosis can affect the patients’ internal organs resulting in the restricted lung function or bladder control* issues. Scoliosis can also pose physical limitations to the patients.

4. Bad Postures are To Blame For The Pain

Bad Postures Info

Bad postures can certainly cause pain, but Scoliosis patients experience pain due to the disease. Their painful experience has nothing to do with a bad posture while sleeping or the way they walk. Straightening the back is not a permanent fix for Scoliosis. People need to understand that Scoliosis could be congenital or idiopathic.

5. Are You a Hypochondriac?

Scoliosis patients are at higher risk of physiological complications. Scoliosis can not only contribute to sore muscles, pain but in severe cases it can cause organ dysfunction. People with Scoliosis may experience:

When Scoliosis patients complain about various health ailments they are not being Hypochondriacs but they are experiencing grave consequences of the disease.

6. The Psychological Impact on The Patients

Considering the gravity of the disease, the patients suffer mentally due to many issues such as:

  • Low self-image- According to a research three out of four women with Scoliosis stay unmarried. Scoliosis can affect the shape of the body significantly and such patients often feel ashamed about their own image.
  • Social isolation- Scoliosis may require the patient to wear braces to manage the disease. Hence, patients with braces may not be able to participate in group activities etc. Severe cases of the disease can also deform the body resulting in poor relations with the peers and society.
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Long term research on emotional impact of Scoliosis has shown that few patients turn to alcoholism due to depression.

People who complain about the mood swings and behavioural issues of people with scoliosis should understand the psychological impact of the disease.

7. Finances can be Hard on Patients and Families

Since the Scoliosis patients try to function like normal people, some may assume that patients do not need any treatment. In reality, Scoliosis can be taxing for the families. The braces and procedures are not cheap. The surgery cost can be overwhelming for the families. The medical expenses can carry on even after surgeries. Some surgery may require to be repeated. Surgeries can fail, and the families may require continuing treatment with prescription drugs.

8. Surgery Cannot Solve Everything

Cure* for Scoliosis

Surgery may sound like an ultimate cure* for Scoliosis, but it cannot cure* the disease permanently. Not every patient is advised to get operated. Surgery is advised to those with spinal curves that are progressive or greater than 50 degrees. Spinal fusion can fail in many cases.

9. Day to Day Struggles

Scoliosis affects the patients for a life term. Though patients function normally, they will experience pain every day. With Scoliosis, desk work gets harder. The patients struggle to find a comfortable position to sit and work for long hours. Some desks designed for Scoliosis patients such as stand desks etc. may help the patients to relieve some pain.
Patients with physical deformities often find it hard to find the right clothes. Many clothes are difficult to wear with braces.

10. Patients with Scoliosis are Not Lazy

Patients with Scoliosis require more time to do household chores. On those days with the excruciating pain, they may end up taking more time than usual. At times, they may not be able to do any work. In such instances, their friends and family cannot call them plain lazy.

11. They are not Unsocial

Scoliosis is extremely challenging as it restricts certain movements in the body. Peers, colleagues, friends and family, should understand the limitations of the patients. When patients are uncomfortable to join tennis match or soccer game, they are not unsocial but they are in pain and have limitations.

12. There are No Quick Fixes or Magic* Potions

It is natural for people to give health tips and advises. However practicing Yoga for a month or getting a Thai massage cannot cure* Scoliosis, in rare cases it can provide some relief*. No health supplement or herbs can cure* the disease overnight. People should know about the disease before they offer health suggestions to Scoliosis patients.

13. Surgeons Vs. Orthopaedic Surgeon

Many cases of Scoliosis that are severe require an expert surgeon who specialises in congenital and Idiopathic Scoliosis. An orthopaedic surgeon may lack the understanding of the disease or experience in treating such conditions. People should be aware that an orthopaedic cannot cure* Scoliosis.

14. Scoliosis Due to Neglected Pregnancy

Scoliosis During Pregnancy

Many people blame the mothers for Scoliosis. They question mother’s diet that she consumed during pregnancy or genetics etc. It is quite unfortunate because Scoliosis has nothing to do with such factors.

15. Ask and Learn

Scoliosis may not be known to many while others may have wrong perceptions about the disease. People should ask and learn about the disease to clear off any wrong perceptions or ideas. It is better* to be aware than ignorant.

Conclusion

Scoliosis is largely mistaken as a normal disease. Though it is a common disease, patients experience pain and discomfort in the lifetime. In severe cases, patients may die due to restricted cardiopulmonary functions. The gravity of the disease is unknown to many people. Due to the wrong perceptions people often end up being insensitive. However, they can ask and learn about the disease to help patients in disease management.

References:

  • http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/scoliosis/basics/definition/con-20030140
  • http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/scoliosis/scoliosis-surgery
  • http://www.lifehack.org/311272/15-things-people-with-scoliosis-want-you-understand
  • http://norasjourney-early-onset-congenital-scoliosis.com/tag/what-not-to-say-to-someone-with-scoliosis/
  • http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs-wm/36621.pdf

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Author

Expert Author : Dr. Ahmed Zayed (Consumer Health Digest)

Dr. Ahmed Zayed Helmy holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. He has completed his degree in 2011 at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Dr. Ahmed believes in providing knowledgeable information to readers. Other than his passion for writing, currently he is working as a Plastic surgeon and is doing his masters at Ain shams University.