Thoracic Scoliosis

A Few Facts About Thoracic Scoliosis

Thoracic scoliosis is a condition in which there is an abnormal curvature of the spine. Any part of the spine can be affected, for example if the lower back experiences curvature, it would be called lumbar scoliosis, and if the neck were involved, the condition would be cervical scoliosis. In the vast majority of cases however the middle section of the spine, the thoracic section, is where curvature usually occurs. This makes sense in that the thoracic spine has double the number of vertebrae found in either the cervical or lumbar spinal regions, and curvature in the thoracic region is apt to be much more pronounced and more apt to contribute to a problem of one type or another.

Thoracic scoliosis can be mild. When this is the case it usually does not cause any problems. In more severe cases, not only may the curvature become quite pronounced, but as the thoracic vertebrae are attached to the rib cage, breathing difficulties can sometime be encountered. Not all of the possible causes of thoracic scoliosis are known or well understood. In some cases the condition is congenital, though it may not manifest itself until later in life.

There is really no way to prevent thoracic scoliosis, or any spinal scoliosis for that matter. It's one of those conditions you either get or you don't get. A person's risk is somewhat higher if there is a family history of the condition, and a female is at much greater risk of getting the condition than is a male. Other abnormalities, which may be present at birth, such as abnormally short legs or arms, can bring on scoliosis at a later stage in life.

Treatment From Aspirin To Braces To Surgery - Scoliosis is treatable, the type of treatment dependent upon the progression of the condition and its severity. Anyone who has the condition should constantly monitor it for changes and notify a physician if the situation appears to be worsening. Pain medication, including aspirin and ibuprofen are sometimes all that is necessary, although such medications do not cure the condition but only relieve the symptoms.

In extreme cases, surgery may be the best option, which involves fusing the vertebrae or adding a rod for support. It's important that this type of treatment be done in the more severe cases, as if left untreated not only the spine is affected but other bones in the body may become deformed as well.

Something Doesn't Look Right - Thoracic scoliosis is often first detected when a person is still a young child. It isn't always the abnormal curvature in the spine that is first apparent but rather that there is something odd about the person's posture. Very often one hip is slightly higher than the other, or X-rays reveal that the ribs on one side of the rib cage are slightly higher than the other. Since the child is still growing, the scoliosis may in some instances progress rather rapidly, although this does not always happen, as sometimes the curvature remains slight and does not represent a problem. Also, if the curvature has not become so pronounced to be a problem, once the child stops growing the curvature may at about the same time cease to become any more pronounced. If the curvature does become more pronounced however, braces may be necessary, and if the braces do not do the job, surgery is often the only option.

Prognosis Is Usually Good - While the insertion of rods or the fusing of vertebrae to straighten the spinal column undoubtedly will affect the range of motion of the individual involved, most people who undergo this type of treatment are able to lead reasonably normal lives and take part in most though perhaps not all of the physical activities a person not having scoliosis would participate in.

Perhaps someday the root cause of this disorder will be discovered and the condition can be halted or even reversed without having to resort to artificial straightening of the spine. That day of course has not yet arrived.