Scoliosis - Description

When viewed from the back, the spine usually appears perfectly straight. In some cases, however, the spine is curved rather than straight. In addition, the vertebrae (the bones that make up the spinal column) are twisted. This condition is known as scoliosis.

A small degree of curving in the spine does not usually cause any medical problems. But larger curves can lead to certain disorders, such as posture imbalance, muscle fatigue, and back pain. Severe scoliosis can interfere with breathing and lead to spondylosis (arthritis of the spine; pronounced spon-dl-OH-siss).

About 10 percent of all adolescents have some degree of scoliosis. Less than 1 percent, however, require medical attention other than careful observation of the problem. Scoliosis occurs in both sexes, but appears in girls about five times more often than in boys. Scoliosis appears most often in adolescents between the age of ten and thirteen.

Cobb angle:
A measure of the curvature of the spine, determined from measurements made on X-ray photographs.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI):
A procedure that uses electromagnets and radio waves to produce images of a patient's internal tissue and organs. These images are not blocked by bones, and can be useful in diagnosing brain and spinal disorders and other diseases.
A tool for measuring the amount of curvature in a person's spine.
Arthritis of the spine.

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