Scoliosis and Spinal Curves

human painful spine Quite often, people come to our clinic in Burlington looking for a diagnosis of their back pain. For some, this means to decipher the nature and severity of a curve in their spine. There are various reasons to have a curve in your spine. Some curves are normal, others are not. This week’s blog may help to outline some of the curves in our spine for you…

When looking from the side, our spine has a normal “S” curve. That is a lordosis in the neck, a kyphosis in the mid back and a lordosis again in the lower back. In other words, from a side view, our lower back and neck should have a curve in the same direction and our mid-back goes the opposite way. When looking from the side, are all curves normal? Not always.

Compression fractures in the mid back can sometimes be so severe that a person develops a hyperkyphosis. That is, they develop a “hump” in their back from the change in the shape of the vertebrae. Compression fractures can happen from trauma or from mild trauma combined with a poor bone mineral density (osteoporosis). Another cause for a bump in this plane (side view) is Scheurmans. Scheurmans is a condition where younger patients develop a bump in their back from multiple levels of vertebral compression. This is usually diagnosed by x-ray and early diagnosis is important. Perhaps safe to say, we usually get more concerned when curves are developing in growing spines!

When looking at a person from behind, a curve from side to side is called a scoliosis. Sometimes a mild curvature will not create symptoms. For those who are skeletally mature (not growing any more) it often doesn’t require any intervention. For younger patients however, it’s really important to get a scoliosis diagnosed early and monitored properly. Depending on the skeletal maturity of the patient and the degree of curvature, further x-rays to monitor the rate of change may be indicated.

So what does all this mean? It’s difficult to explain in a blog what is normal and what is not normal for a spinal curvature. There is a normal “S” curve that should be present in a healthy spine. Some deviation from this can be considered normal. At the same time, there are diagnosable conditions that involve aberrant curves in the spine which need to be diagnosed properly so that they can be treated appropriately. Some of these aberrations require home exercises, some require treatment and most all of them require some form of regular monitoring of curve progression. Unsure what to do? Give our chiropractic, massage, athletic therapy and physiotherapy clinic in Burlington a call, we can help!

 

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