Bones and Spinal Health

Scoliosis

What is scoliosis?

  • Scoliosis means the condition of which the spine curves sideways abnormally, showing a "C" or “S” shape.
  • Majority of scoliosis cases are idiopathic (without obvious cause or other pathologies) and occurs during adolescence. This is called Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis.
  • Other causes of scoliosis include congenital bony abnormalities and neuromuscular disorders.

Know more about Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis

  • It affects about 2 to 3% of the adolescents.
  • Most cases of idiopathic scoliosis have no obvious cause.
  • It is more common in girls than in boys. People with relevant family medical history also have a higher risk of developing scoliosis.
  • It starts around 10 years old and the condition may deteriorate as children grow older. However, when bones mature, the condition is less likely to deteriorate.
  • People having immature bone and a higher degree of curve are more likely to have deterioration.
  • Most people suffer from mild scoliosis and do not need treatment. However, severe cases should seek medical advice from orthopaedic specialists.

How to detect scoliosis?

  1. Uneven shoulders
  2. Asymmetric shoulder blades prominence
  3. Uneven waist
  4. Pelvic tilt

Scoliosis is often undetected as one’s body is covered by clothes and the condition is usually asymptomatic. Sometimes, postural asymmetry such as uneven shoulders, asymmetric shoulder blades prominence, uneven waist or pelvic tilt may be noticed. When the condition becomes severe, it may affect one’s physical appearance and cardiopulmonary function.

How to prevent scoliosis?

  • There is no evidence that our daily habits such as exercise, diet or physiotherapy can prevent the incidence or deterioration of scoliosis.
  • Join the Student Health Service and undergo regular scoliosis check-up for early detection of the condition and timely referral to specialists.

Although our daily habits would not affect the incidence or deterioration of scoliosis, in order to maintain our spine health, we should pay attention to the following:

  1. Maintain a balanced diet, including adequate intake of calcium-rich food such as milk and dairy products.
  2. Exercise regularly. Children and adolescents should do at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activities every day.
  3. Maintain good posture while standing and sitting. Remember to stretch regularly.
  4. Occasional moderate sunlight exposure allows your skin to produce Vitamin D, which is important for calcium absorption.
  5. Lift and move heavy objects with safe techniques and posture. Stand close to the load, keep your back straight and bend your knees.

What is the medical management of scoliosis?

Mild scoliosis usually requires no treatment. Regular observation and follow-up consultation is required until the bones mature completely. For those who suffer from severe scoliosis, orthopaedic specialists referral and follow up is needed.

Observation, bracing or surgery may be recommended by orthopaedic specialists according to condition of affected individual.

(Revised in January 2021)

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