What is Scoliosis and Kyphosis?
Scoliosis affects 3% of the adolescent population and up to 50% of those over age 60. “Scoliosis is a condition of side-to-side spinal curves. On an x-ray, the spine of a person with scoliosis looks more like an “S” or a “C” than a straight line. These curves can make the person’s shoulders, hips or waist appear uneven. In scoliosis, the spine’s vertebrae may also be rotated, causing one shoulder blade or trunk muscles to be more prominent than the other.” Source: www.srs.org
Kyphosis, according to the Scoliosis Research Society website:
Kyphosis is a larger-than-normal forward bend in the spine, most commonly in the upper back. In adults, you will see three forms of kyphosis:
- Post-traumatic kyphosis is most commonly in the mid- to lower-back of affected patients, often found in patients who have fractured one or several of their vertebra due to a traumatic injury. It can also occur if there is severe ligament damage in the spine associated with a fracture.
- Age-associated kyphosis results from the aging process and, more specifically, conditions like osteoporosis, muscle weakness, degenerative disc disease, and spine fractures.
- Scheuremann’s kyphosis that developed in adolescence can progress into adulthood. A patient with this form of kyphosis has a spine that is stiff due to the abnormal shape of the vertebrae.
Not uncommonly, scoliosis and kyphosis occur together.
What is the Cause of Scoliosis and Kyphosis?
In more than 80 percent of scoliosis cases, we do not know what causes it. We do know it is not a result of carrying heavy items, sports, poor posture, or minor leg length abnormalities. We use the word idiopathic when we don’t know the cause.
The causes of Kyphosis are better understood. The cause of Post-Traumatic Kyphosis can develop when there is major spine injury, such as quadriplegia or paraplegia. The cause of Age-Associated Hyperkyphosis (sometimes known as the Dowager’s hump or gibbous deformity) stems from a number of spinal conditions, like osteoporosis, muscle weakness, degenerative disc disease and vertebral fractures, or a combination of these. Scheurmann’s Kyphosis typically develops during adolescence and sometimes progresses into adulthood.
In the young woman pictured here, the curvature in her spine is very evident at 45 degrees.
Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis, or AIS, is the most common form of scoliosis. It affects children between the ages of 10 to 18 and is found in as many as 4 in 100 adolescents. Interestingly, AIS is found in more females than in males. Many theories exist with regard to the cause of AIS including hormonal imbalance, asymmetric growth and muscle imbalance.
Scoliosis Research Society, n.d. Web. 6 June 2016.
AIS and Kyphosis Treatment Options
Observation, bracing and/or surgery are the current treatment options for AIS and Kyphosis. Neither bracing nor surgery are required for every case. However, when bracing is recommended, we have proof that it works, but it correlates to how long it is worn.