When a person has a sideways curvature of the spine, which usually occurs before puberty and during a growth spurt, they have a condition called scoliosis. This may also have other causes, such as muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy. However, it’s generally not known what the root cause really is for the majority of cases.

Fortunately, most scoliosis cases are mild and don’t necessarily result in serious health issues. But, some children develop severe spinal deformities as they grow, with some individuals becoming physically disabled. When the condition is severe, it can also restrict chest space, which means the lungs are not able to function properly.

Mild Cases

Milder cases of scoliosis can be monitored with X-rays, so that the medical professional will know of the curvature is getting worse. In the best of situations, it’s not necessary to undergo extensive treatment. Some children will need to wear a brace to keep the curve from getting worse, though surgery may be necessary to straighten the most severe cases.

Scoliosis curves in the spine may be either shaped like a “C” or like an “S.” In the mildest cases, you may only need to visit your medical professional on a periodic basis, for the monitoring mentioned earlier. The condition usually shows up in children from age 10 to age 12, or in the early teens, because this is time when the body is growing fast. Because girls tend to grow earlier, this is the time when the condition generally appears.

Scoliosis does have some genetic connections. It can run in the family, so, if you have a close relative with this condition you should see your doctor for a diagnosis. This medical professional may determine you have a non-structural condition, which means the curve is temporary and not affecting long-term health. If the condition is structural, this means the curve is fixed and must be treated with the correct methods.

Diagnosis, Treatment

Your doctor will use personal medical history, family history, a thorough exam and other tests to determine if scoliosis is present. An X-ray helps the doctor measure spine curvature, as well as shape and location. Treatment decisions will be based on the type of scoliosis, degree and pattern of the curve, the person’s age etc.

If you’re diagnosed with scoliosis, your treatment will be based on these factors. The doctor may recommend observation on a regular basis. If necessary, the medical professional may advise you to wear a brace to keep the curve from becoming worse. Surgery would be used to correct a curve or stop it from becoming more severe. A medical rod or another device (implant) may be used to help keep the spine straight.

Studies show that exercise does not keep scoliosis from becoming worse. However, it’s important for everyone to exercise and maintain physical fitness. If you’ve been diagnosed with scoliosis, you should consult with your doctor to determine what type and level of exercise you can engage in.