Scoliosis is a spinal-disease which affects approximately 3 percent of the population. The disease involves the development of a spinal curve i.e. the spine bends side-ways, which causes the patient a series of problems. This includes limited mobility, chronic pain, and physical disfiguration. Although most cases of the disease are minor, patients who suffer from an extreme form of scoliosis can have their lives at risk.
A large number of scoliosis patients, around 80 percent, suffer from idiopathic scoliosis, of which the causes are unknown. However, research over the years has helped scientists determine the reasons behind other types of scoliosis. Here are the top causes of the disease.
Congenital scoliosis is present in victims from birth and is caused by the spine being unable to develop properly in the womb. Sometimes, this is because one or more bones in the infant’s spine may only form part, and occasionally they are absent altogether. This form of scoliosis is rare; statistically, one in every ten thousand newborns suffers from it.
Research has led professionals to believe that another cause for scoliosis may be traumatic-births which damage the infant’s spine as it leaves the womb. This can be caused by C-Sections and even vaginal births that involve artificial aids such as vacuum extractors. Infants leaving the birth canal have their neck and back in vulnerable positions, which can subject them to injury. External forces can damage the nerves which surround the spine, causing it to grow abnormally. Consequently, this could lead to the development of a spinal curve.
Alteration Of The Spine’s Mechanics
Research conducted by scientists has shown that the spine has natural curves, which are healthy for its growth and positioning. Disruption of these curves, or straightening them, by external forces or pressure can weaken the spine. Researchers observed that scoliosis victims had flattened upper and middle backs, which results in the spine failing to form good curves. Consequently, this leaves the spine vulnerable, making it subject to forming unhealthy spinal curvatures and developing scoliosis.
Degenerative scoliosis is a condition that almost exclusively affects older adults. It is caused by negative changes in the spine, usually due to bone diseases, particularly arthritis. The weakening of the bones due to arthritis, along with other ligaments and soft tissues becoming vulnerable due to old age, can cause the spine to curve abnormally. In this weakened state, the spine can also be damaged by external forces and conditions, such as vertebral compression fractures.
Neuromuscular scoliosis develops due to the inability of muscles and nerve pathways to balance the spine appropriately. This leads to the formation of the spinal curve. Neuromuscular scoliosis is often caused by disorders, such as cerebral palsy and traumatic paraplegia. These disorders disrupt the communication between the muscles of the body and the nerves, which leads to irregular growth of the spine. Children who suffer from neuromuscular scoliosis often develop it due to pelvic obliquity, a condition where the patient’s pelvis is imbalanced due to one side being tilted higher than the other.
Functional scoliosis is also known as non-structural scoliosis, as this disease isn’t caused by any abnormalities in the spine itself. This form of scoliosis involves a spine which structurally appears to be normal, but has developed a spinal curvature. In this case, the cause of the curve’s development is believed to be external. Research shows that this condition develops due to abnormalities in other parts of the body, such as a difference in length of the patient’s legs, or inflammatory conditions which result in muscle spasms. When treating this form of scoliosis, the spine itself is not addressed. Instead, the factors which are believed to affect the curve are dealt with, and the curvature heals as a result.