Scoliosis is the technical medical term from curvature of the spine. The curvature is usually side to side, so that it is seen most when you look at the back straight on. There may be a c-shape or an s-shape to the spine, and there is frequently a raised portion, or prominence in the upper back along the ribs or in the lower back around the hips. The prominence can look like swelling or feel like tight muscles and can sometimes be sore. You might also have a hip or a shoulder blade that stands out.
Scoliosis is a shape, like having broad or narrow shoulders. It is not a disease. It is simply the shape of your spine. Most people start showing signs of scoliosis when they start growing quickly as teenagers. This is typically around age eleven to thirteen in girls and 12 to 14 in boys, although any age child can have scoliosis. The younger you are when it first shows up and the more growth you have remaining, the more of a possibility the curve has to get bigger.
We don’t know what causes scoliosis. It seems to run in families, so if you have it, there is a three to five percent chance your sisters or brothers might have it as well. We now know that there are certain areas of the genes, the parts of the cells that manage how you grow and develop that seem to be more involved with scoliosis.
Approximately one in 50 children is diagnosed with scoliosis. And, this Saturday I invite you to join me and others who have scoliosis for the WakeMed Spine Camp. Spine Camp is a free event organized for kids and their families to learn more about the physical and emotional aspects of scoliosis. We will be offering free spine screenings, education about back mechanics, information on exercises to make your back stronger and interaction with others who have scoliosis. Register here or by calling 919-350-4179.
If you are not able to attend, but are still interested connecting with others check out Back Talk, our support group for children with spinal disorders.
Dr. Keith Mankin is an orthopaedist with Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic specializing in scoliosis and the pediatric spine.