Spine Curvature Disorders

Spine curvature disorders

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

There are three main types of scoliosis depending upon what is the cause - idiopathic, congenital, and neuromuscular. It means the cause is unknown (idiopathic), is present as a birth defect (congenital), or is a result of some neuromuscular abnormality in the body. Also, if you count the age of onset of the disease, there are further categories such as early onset, adolescent idiopathic, etc bringing the actual number of scoliosis types to seven.
Scoliosis can be treated and stopped from progressing depending on the severity of the condition. It can be corrected by the help of surgery and/or by wearing back braces. Also, the exact treatment depends on what the cause of scoliosis is. Wearing back braces might not treat or reverse the scoliosis completely but it will definitely curb (in many cases) the progress of the disease.
The primary cause of spine curvature disorder is aging. As a person ages, there is degeneration of bones and vertebrae. Abnormalities in anatomy, hormonal disorders, birth defects, and spinal tumors could also cause spine curvature disorders. Wrong posture is also counted as a cause for spine curvature.
The spine is not a vertically straight structure. It is made of three broad curves - cervical, thoracic, and lumbar. A normal spine curvature has 2 forward curves - one in cervical (the neck) and one in lumbar (the lower back). It is also described by two backward curves - one in the chest region and one in the hip region. The presence of these curves means that an individual has a normal spine curvature.

Overview of spine curvature disorders

The vertebral column is the most essential structure of a human body, which helps maintain an erect posture. Any irregularities in the structure of the vertebra or any disorders of the spine can lead to serious deformities and interfere with healthy living. Spinal curvature disorders are common in elderly people especially in men above 65 years old. Women, young adults, and children are also found to suffer from spine curvature disorders, the number of cases reported was less. According to reports by World Health Organization, each year 25,00,000 to 50,00,000 people suffer from spine injuries. Also, more than 1.7 billion people suffer from lower back and neck pain . All of these incidences are closely associated with spine curvature disorders of serious nature and must be resolved at the earliest.

What are spine curvature disorders?

Spine curvature disorders treatmentSpine curvature disorders refer to the disorders caused by dislocation, degeneration or injury to any of the 33 vertebrae that constitute the vertebral column.

These are divided into few sections viz- Cervical (top 7 vertebrae), Thoracic (next 12 vertebrae), Lumbar (last 5 vertebrae) and Sacrococcygeal (9 fused vertebrae forming the sacrum and coccyx) regions.

Each of these is responsible for maintaining upright posture, bending, twisting and movements. Disorientation of any of these can lead to spine curvature disorders.

Causes of spine curvature disorders

Spine curvature disorders mainly arise due to degeneration and deformities in old age. But there are other etiological factors as well. The general causes of spinal curvature disorders are described below-

  • Age: Natural degeneration of vertebral bones and discs occur with age due to the erosion of the spine, protruded discs, trapped nerves, muscular degeneration or spinal injuries.
  • Anatomical problems: Abnormalities in muscles around the vertebra, the presence of abnormally high arches can lead to spine curvature disorders.
  • Co-ordination problems: In few people, inherited spine disorders or co-ordination abnormalities can cause asymmetric growths in the spine. In due course of time, this may lead to spine curvature disorders.
  • Proteins: Collagen is an important structural protein present in muscles and bones. Maintenance and repair of collagen are done by a particular enzyme called matrix metalloproteinase. Extremely high quantities of these enzymes can cause abnormalities in the spinal disc components causing anomalous progression of the spine curvature, leading to disc degeneration and spine curvature disorders. Again, abnormalities in another type of protein called platelet calmodulin (which binds to calcium) can also contribute to spine curvature disorders.
  • Hormones: Abnormalities in the functioning of a specific hormone called “melatonin” which is associated with sleep and growth has accounted for spine curvature disorders in few reported cases.
  • Birth defects: A few congenital defects such as absent or fused or deformed vertebrae can lead to abnormal spine growth and spine curvature disorders. These problems are very prominent in the growing years (8-13) of a child. During these years the spine growth in very fast and it exerts more stress on the spinal disorders already present. In few children, a defective positioning of the kidney, or presence of only one kidney is closely linked to spine curvature disorders. Birth defects such as spina bifida or myelomeningocele (Hernia of the Central Nervous System) can also cause spine curvature disorders.
  • Heredity: Familial dysautonomia is a very rare variety of genetic disease which accounts for spine curvature disorders in few cases.
  • Medical conditions: A few existing diseases like muscle paralysis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, polio, osteogenesis or rheumatoid arthritis can lead to spine curvature disorder at some point of time.
  • Spinal tumors: Presence of spinal tumors in case of existing malignancies can give rise to spine curvature disorders.
  • Non-structural causes: Spinal injuries, poor posture, long periods of standing, muscle spasms and differences in leg length are some of the non-structural causes of spine curvature disorders.

What are the main warning signs?

Spine curvature disorders postureThe symptoms of spine curvature disorders are visible at a much later stage. The common symptoms are as follows-

  • Abnormal postures in a growing child such as tilted head, jutting out shoulder blades, one of the hips or shoulder blades present at a different level than the other.
  • Sticking out of the rib or shoulder blade in case of spine curvature defects in the thoracic region.
  • Forward protrusion of the pelvic bone due to spine curvature defects in the lumbar regions (causes one leg to appear shorter than the other).
  • A tendency to lean on one side
  • Muscle spasms, abnormal skeletal growths on the spine and occasional pain in the spine
  • Pain and fatigue after long periods of standing or sitting

Types of spine curvature disorders

Spine curvature disorders can be classified into the following types depending on the portion of the vertebral column that is affected. These are elaborated below-

Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a collective term for deformities of the spine and rib cage. It is commonly observed in the thoracolumbar area (portion between thoracic and lumbar regions). But it may also develop only in the thoracic region (upper back) and lumbar region (lower back). Scoliosis may develop as a single C-shaped curve, an S-shaped curve (consisting of a primary curve and a compensating or secondary curve), forming a three dimensional deformity. Scoliosis may be categorized into the following types based on anatomy and postion-

Structural Scoliosis: This condition is characterized by abnormal curvature, rotation and twisting of the spine. Due to this, one half of the rib cage is pushed forward (creating large gaps between the ribs) and another half is pushed inward (causing compression of the ribs). The shoulder blade juts out causing differences in levels of the shoulders. Structural scoliosis has the following subtypes- 

  • Idiopathic scoliosis: Origin or cause of this type of scoliosis is not known. 8-10 cases of scoliosis are idiopathic in nature.
  • Neuromuscular scoliosis: It is mainly observed in cases of muscular dystrophy and neurofibromatosis. The abnormal curvature in this condition is an outcome of disorders of the posterior muscles and nerves. 1 out of 10 cases of scoliosis belongs to this category.
  • Osteopathic scoliosis: It results due to some major bone defect(s).
  • Congenital scoliosis: This type of scoliosis occurs due to abnormal spine growth of the fetus in the womb. 1 out of 10 cases of this category is reported.

Functional scoliosis: It is also called Non-structural or Postural Scoliosis. In this case, the spine curvature is actually normal but looks curved due to other factors. It occurs due to non-anatomical defects of the spine such as a difference in leg length, poor postures, muscle spasms or spinal injuries.

Thoracic scoliosis: It is caused due to abnormal curvature of the upper portion of the spine.

Lumbar scoliosis: It is caused due to abnormal curvature in the lower portion of the spine.

Fixed scoliosis: It occurs due to infections of the spine or presence of spine tumors. It is characterized by visible deformities of the bone and back.

Non-fixed scoliosis: It is a secondary form of scoliosis and occurs due to paralysis of back muscles, misaligned hip, spinal injuries, and arthritis. This type of scoliosis is curable if the causative factors are eliminated.

Kyphosis

Kyphosis refers to the abnormal curvature or bowing of the back due to the outward curvature of the lumbar spine. Kyphosis is characterized by hunchback or a slouching posture. It can be an outcome of different conditions such as arthritis of spine (damage of vertebra), osteoporosis of spine (thinning of vertebral bones) and diseases like spina bifida or myelomeningocele.

It has the following subtypes-

    •  Postural Kyphosis: It is a very common form of Kyphosis and is called Hyperkyphosis or Dowager’s Hump (in aged people). It is characterized by abnormal slouching.
    • Scheuermann’s Kyphosis: It is also called Adolescent Kyphosis and is more commonly observed in adolescents and teenagers. In this condition, a series of vertebral bones are wedged together, causing deformity and abnormal curvature of the spine.
    • Nutritional Kyphosis: It is mainly observed in children suffering from rickets and is caused due to Vitamin D deficiency.
  • Post-traumatic Kyphosis: It is an outcome of spinal fractures and injuries. (e) Congenital Kyphosis: It occurs due to malformed bones during early stages of fetal development. It results in major birth defects due to spinal deformities.

Lordosis

It is also called “sway back” condition and is characterized by an extreme inward curvature of the spine. Extreme cases of Lordosis are observed in adolescence due to some existing diseases or poor postures for prolonged period. The vertebral and spinal muscles are severely affected in such cases. Mild cases of Lordosis in the lumbar and cervical regions are considered normal. Lordosis has the following subtypes- (a) Cervical Lordosis: Inward curvature of the cervical portion of the spine is observed especially in the neck region. (b) Thoracic Lordosis: Inward curvature of the thoracic portion of the spine occurs. (c) Lumbar Lordosis: In this condition, abnormal inward curvature of the lumbar (lower) portion of the spine occurs. (c) Congenital Lordosis: It is caused due to inward spine curvatures present since birth.

Diagnosis

For proper diagnosis of spine curvature disorders, a proper examination of the Angle of Trunk Rotation is necessary. Forward bend tests are recommended in the initial stages. X-rays of spines are carried out in the later stages to determine the degree of scoliosis or presence of abnormal curvatures. MRI scans or CT scans can also be performed to detect any tumours in the spine.

Treatment & Prevention

Kyphosis

Spine curvature disordersThe treatment of kyphosis chiefly depends on the cause and the severity of the condition. Following treatment modalities are available:

  • Pain relieving medications- Prescription medications can be administered in cases where the pain cannot be managed by the regular over-the-counter medicines (such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and naproxen sodium).
  • Bone-strengthening medications- Medications are prescribed for treating osteoporosis in order to prevent spinal fractures in future.
  • Exercise- Stretching exercises are advised by a physical therapist to reduce a backache and improve spinal flexibility.
  • Bracing- In certain cases, bracing can help in impeding the progression of kyphosis. For instance, wearing a body brace during the growth period might help the children who have Scheuermann’s disease.
  • Surgical intervention: In severe cases, surgeries might be required to rectify the position of the spine.

Scoliosis

The treatment depends on the age of the patient and the severity of the condition. In mild cases, no treatment or surgery is required. However, in moderate to severe cases, the following treatment options may be considered:

  • Scoliosis brace: It helps children during their growth years. It does not treat or reverse scoliosis but prevents its progression.
  • Surgical intervention: Surgeries such as spinal fusion may be executed in order to reduce the severity of the condition and prevent worsening. Surgery might have complications such as nerve damage, bleeding, pain, infection etc.

Lordosis

  • Medications: Medications are usually prescribed to control inflammation and pain.
  • Physical therapy and exercise: This helps to augment muscle strength and flexibility.
  • Back brace: This can help to support the spine.
  • Surgical intervention: Corrective surgeries are performed in few cases.

Weight-loss is advised in case of obese patients to reduce the stress on the spine.

Prevention is mainly by maintaining a right posture and use of protective gears during driving, playing sports, cycling etc. in order to prevent accidents and trauma. Early intervention can prevent the progression of the condition.

Facts

  • Usain Bolt – the Olympic gold medallist, has scoliosis.
  • Smoking is considered to be the leading preventable cause of neck and spine disorders.

Facts

  • Females are much likely to experience the progression of scoliosis as compared to males.
  • S-shaped curves are more likely to worsen as compared to C-shaped curves in patients with scoliosis.

Facts

  • Approximately 3 million new cases of scoliosis are diagnosed in the United States every year.

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There are three main types of scoliosis depending upon what is the cause - idiopathic, congenital, and neuromuscular. It means the cause is unknown (idiopathic), is present as a birth defect (congenital), or is a result of some neuromuscular abnormality in the body. Also, if you count the age of onset of the disease, there are further categories such as early onset, adolescent idiopathic, etc bringing the actual number of scoliosis types to seven.
Scoliosis can be treated and stopped from progressing depending on the severity of the condition. It can be corrected by the help of surgery and/or by wearing back braces. Also, the exact treatment depends on what the cause of scoliosis is. Wearing back braces might not treat or reverse the scoliosis completely but it will definitely curb (in many cases) the progress of the disease.
The primary cause of spine curvature disorder is aging. As a person ages, there is degeneration of bones and vertebrae. Abnormalities in anatomy, hormonal disorders, birth defects, and spinal tumors could also cause spine curvature disorders. Wrong posture is also counted as a cause for spine curvature.
The spine is not a vertically straight structure. It is made of three broad curves - cervical, thoracic, and lumbar. A normal spine curvature has 2 forward curves - one in cervical (the neck) and one in lumbar (the lower back). It is also described by two backward curves - one in the chest region and one in the hip region. The presence of these curves means that an individual has a normal spine curvature.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Take supplements for vitamin D and calcium after consulting your doctor. This will help in improving the bone strength.
  • Take a balanced diet- a balanced diet will prevent unwanted weight gain and provide the required levels of minerals and vitamins.
  • Seek medical attention if you observe any abnormal curvature in your child’s back.
Don'ts
  • Indulge in smoking and tobacco consumption- this will prevent the bone density from deteriorating further.
  • Have alcohol consumption. Drink responsibly as excessive alcohol consumption can worsen the condition. High levels of alcohol increase the cortisol levels in the body thereby impeding new bone formation and promoting the breakdown of bones.
  • Fall for alternative medicine. Methods such as chiropractic manipulation and electrical stimulation of muscles have not shown any promising results in research.

 

 

 

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Arterial Blood Gas Analysis Arterial blood gas analysis is a diagnostic procedure used to determine the volume of oxygen and carbon dioxide…
bilirubin-test-result
Bilirubin Test Bilirubin is a substance produced in the body as a result of red blood cell breakdown. A bilirubin…
LFT-test
Liver Function Test – LFT LFT or Liver Function Test is a blood test used to determine the levels of hepatic enzymes which…
sodium blood test
Blood Sodium Test A blood sodium test measures the amount of sodium (an important electrolyte) in your body. It is also…
blood ketone test
Blood Ketone (D3HB) Test The Blood Ketone Test measures and monitors the levels of ketone in the blood which is usually performed…
shiitake mushrooms healthy
What are Shiitake Mushrooms and why should you eat them? Shiitake Mushrooms are well known for their smoky and robust taste. However, did you know they are replete…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
cancer facts
8 hard-hitting truths no one tells you about cancer Did you know that 1.5 million new cases of cancer are reported every year? Can second-hand smoking kill…
The complete “what to eat” guide for gluten intolerance Does eating breads and pastas often makes you nauseous? Gluten intolerance is a common reason why you might…
Kava: Is it the healthy substitute for alcohol you have been waiting for? Native to the beautiful South Pacific islands, Kava is a famous beverage rooted in the local culture. It…
Chlorella: Therapeutic powers of the billion-year-old algae now within your reach Chlorella - A billion year old nutrient-rich algae that can potentially ward off cancers and high cholesterol; the…
Pescatarian Diet 101: What are the inherent health advantages of this diet? People opt to become a pescatarian in order to enrich their bodies with the essential health benefits that…
What is the right way to take a pregnancy test? A pregnancy test is undertaken to determine if you have conceived. A home pregnancy test is the most…
Sciatica pain relief: Get rid of the pain with these easy daily tips Researchers have claimed that not only heat but icing the area too helps relieve sciatica pain. Find out…
Quinine: How gin and tonic came to be known as a potent health elixir The discovery of quinine-containing tree bark is sometimes considered the most serendipitous medical discovery of the 17th century.
SHBG test
Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) Test SHBG is an important sex hormone that is linked to testosterone in men and estrogen in women. Abnormal…
about mediterranean diet
Why you should be adopting a Mediterranean style of diet today Ever wondered why the Mediterranean diet is so healthy? One simple solution to lowering risk of several deadliest…
L-theanine attention
L-Theanine: Better sleep, higher focus, and many other benefits Did you know that L-theanine found in green tea can make you sleep better and be focused at…
gallbladder diet tomato
Gallbladder surgery :Tips on post-operative care and diet What to eat post a gallbladder surgery? What are the key things to avoid if you had a…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
What to eat, what not to eat in the South Beach Diet? The South Beach Diet is one among the most popular weight loss programs that have been the talk…
Carb Cycling: Weighing the pros vs the cons of this diet routine Completely discarding carbs from your life will do you more harm than good. Read more about carb cycling,…
Tart Cherry: The healthiest excuse for taking that second serving of pie Tart cherry has been traditionally used in delectable desserts such as pies. Recent studies have revealed that its…
How accurate is the hair follicle drug test? Hair follicle drug test is one of the best ways to identify drug use in professional circles. But…
Top reasons why you need to pay attention to your vitamin B6 intake Vitamin B6- An essential water-soluble vitamin. Its deficiency leads to physical changes such as sores & glossy tongue…
Hysteroscopy_procedure
Hysteroscopy Hysteroscopy is a minimally invasive tool to help specialists view the uterus to diagnose and even treat several…
Strep throat pain
Anti-Streptolysin-O Test The ASO or Anti-Streptolysin-O is a blood test designed to check for the presence of streptococcus bacterial infection…
vdrl test syphilis
VDRL Test The VDRL test is a blood test that is used to diagnose sexually transmitted or venereal diseases, primarily…
Thyroid disorders
Thyroid Profile Thyroid profile is a panel of blood tests performed to check if an individual is suffering from any…
ureteroscopy
Ureteroscopy Ureteroscopy is the diagnostic procedure which is used for the detection of the kidney stones in addition to…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
lose weight fast
12 easy and instant steps to successful weight loss Do you want to lose weight without losing your mind? Does weight loss always mean saying goodbye to…
occupational hazards types
Occupational Hazards: How to vouch for your health at your workplace Occupational hazards affect millions worldwide. Chemical spills, faulty wires, deadly pathogen, and work-stress can happen anytime. Follow these…
Bromelain: 11 reasons why you should start adding pineapple to your pizza! If you didn't love pineapples already, here are some of the top health benefits that bromelain can bring…
Jackfruit: Slice your way into higher immunity, better digestion, & more… Native to the South East Asia, the jackfruit is a fruit brimming with thousands of health benefits. Discover…
Urologist: When should you visit one and why? A urologist can treat not only genitourinary problems of both men and women but also can treat various…
Appendix pain: Recent findings on this not-so vestigial organ The exact function of the appendix is still not clear. Some consider it as an organ that once…
Bubble Tea: Bubbling with nutrition or a hidden sugar mine? The tapioca pearls present in the tea looks like bubbles and hence the name bubble tea became popular.…
Vitamin b12
Vitamin B12 Test Vitamin b12 is an essential nutrient required for healthy functioning of the nervous system and also development of…
EEG
Electroencephalogram – EEG EEG or electroencephalogram is a diagnostic tool used to access the functioning of neurons and brain activity to…
woman with abdominal pain holding ovulation calendar
Ovulation – facts to know about ovulation Learn how and when ovulation occurs, demystify common misconceptions, identify symptoms, methods of detection and right period for…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
Pumpkin Seeds: Why pumpkins are more than just for pies! Pumpkins have been long associated with Halloween carvings and delicious pies. But did you know that pumpkin seeds…
Exercises or diet? Find out the healthiest way to gain weight Tired of being called skinny all the time? Looking for healthy ways to beef up? Why not try…
Oxalates: How healthy greens can sometimes be bad news for your kidneys Oxalates are compounds present in a majority of healthy foods. However, at times an overconsumption of these could…