What is Scoliosis?

Thousands of Canadians suffer from back pain, which can be caused from many different things. For example, sitting or standing for prolonged periods of time, lifting heavy objects or moving the wrong way (usually resulting in a muscle strain or sprain), and even kidney infections.

Generally, back pain is fairly easy to treat and will go away on its own with a little rest and relaxation. In cases where back pain is severe, Dr. Ali Ghahary will recommend patients use over-the-counter pain relief medications, such as Advil or Tylenol, and may also prescribe muscle relaxants if necessary. But what about back pain that isn’t the result of a simple strain, sprain or injury?

Scoliosis, a condition that can cause severe back pain, occurs when the spine has an abnormal S or C-curve to it. In almost 90% of cases, the reason for the development of scoliosis is unknown, although possible causes include cerebral palsy, neuromuscular disorders, and it can also be caused at birth or inherited. Scoliosis is most common in children between the ages of 10 and 12, though it can affect people of all ages, including adults over the age of 50.

Back pain and local inflammation are both classic symptom of scoliosis – however, there are other problems that can occur as a direct result of this condition. For example, when the spine curves, the hips can become unaligned and can change how you walk. Curving or twisting of the spine can also result in a reduced range of motion/flexibility, and can even cause difficulty breathing as well as cardiovascular problems.

In order to treat scoliosis effectively, early detection is paramount. If you are experiencing severe back pain and/or notice any changes with yours (or your child’s) spine, see your doctor as soon as possible. They will be able to send you for x-rays to determine if there are any abnormalities with the spine itself. Once a diagnosis of scoliosis has been confirmed, your doctor will be able to make appropriate recommendations and refer to you to see a specialist if necessary. In cases where the scoliosis is mild, exercise is sometimes recommended as it can help to slow curvature of the spine and even provide pain relief. For cases of moderate to severe scoliosis, you may need to wear a brace or require surgery.

More information on scoliosis and other spine-related problems can be found by visiting the Canadian Spine Society website at www.spinecanada.ca.