June is Scoliosis Awareness Month. Like most awareness periods, it is a time to highlighting the dire need for education, early detection and spread the awareness of the disease. It is also a time where people and their families living with scoliosis can come together for support and community to talk about its effects. But what really is scoliosis?

A spine comprises of small vertebrate bones placed on top of one another. A normal or a healthy spine should have a natural curve which is normally straight that allows rotation and bending. Scoliosis will occur when the spine curves side-ways forming an “S” shape. This will in turn make the ribs to look uneven because it is attached to the spine. The spine tends to twist the ribs. A scoliosis patient may also have:

  • One shoulder higher than the other
  • One hip higher than the other
  • Head may not be centered over the pelvis
  • Back pain, and chest may also appear uneven, (in case of when scoliosis becomes severe)
  • Arms may not hang proportionally by the body side
  • Pushed out ribs

The diagnosis of scoliosis is confirmed by doing an x-ray of the spine. Measurement of the spine that is more than 10 degrees confirms scoliosis. Scoliosis can affect people from all walks of life from kids to adults, men and women. There is no cure for scoliosis, but some form of treatment can be administered to help manage pain. The type of treatment will depend on your age or gender, and the severity of one’s condition. Your doctor will recommend either surgical or non-surgical treatment. Non-surgical treatments may include:

  • Back braces: it helps reduce the curve with time. This would be in a case of adolescents whose body has not fully grown. The time span of wearing the brace will depend on the type of scoliosis.
  • Exercise (ie. yoga)
  • Physical therapy- with a program that is specially designed for scoliosis.

Any treatment for scoliosis or another health condition, should be done in consultation with your doctor/medical professional. Surgical treatment is done in severe cases for curves that are more than 50 degrees. The process will help to restructure the spine. The cause of scoliosis is not known. Mild cases may not need treatment but can have a non-surgical treatment recommended. Scoliosis may not be curable but remember that it can be controlled and the spine restored to its normal position and functionality.

As a way to show your support for scoliosis awareness, wear the color green or a green ribbon. It is a great conversation starter!

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