Our spine has a natural curvature that supports movement, improves flexibility, and decreases pressure on our backs. Scoliosis is a condition that increases the curvature of the spine, shifting it more to the left and right.
Some estimates show that six to nine million people in the US live with scoliosis, and it affects 2-3% of the global population.
So what does scoliosis do to your body, and what can you do to eliminate the symptoms caused by this condition?
What Are the Most Common Scoliosis Symptoms?
Scoliosis usually occurs at a young age, typically between the ages of 10 and 15. However, it can onset earlier or later as well. Although boys and girls develop scoliosis at about the same levels, females usually have more severe symptoms that require treatment.
The most common symptoms of scoliosis include:
- Tilted hips
- Uneven shoulders
- Tilted or not centered head
- Asymmetric body alignment
- Back pain
Although people often seek treatment when they start experiencing back pain, some can have other symptoms without any pain or discomfort.
The Severity of Scoliosis
Doctors will diagnose you with scoliosis if your spine curvature is more than 10 percent off from the normal position. This amount of deviation from the standard alignment is called the Cobb angle.
A Higher Cobb angle means your scoliosis is more severe. For instance, if a person has a Cobb angle of over 40 degrees, they most likely need surgery to put the spine in the normal alignment and prevent further deterioration.
What Does Scoliosis Do to Your Body
Besides spine health, scoliosis can affect many other systems in your body. The bigger the Cobb angle, the more it affects your health.
Read on to find other consequences of scoliosis besides body deformities.
It Interferes With Nerve Signals
When your spine curves abnormally, it compresses or stretches nerves around it. That can mess with nerve signals, causing discomfort, pain, tingling sensation in extremities, burning, or other unpleasant sensations.
In more severe cases, affected nerves could lead to issues with fine motor control, limiting your ability to perform certain tasks. Rarely, it can affect bladder and bowel control.
It Can Cause Headaches
Pinched nerves can cause intense headaches that impair the quality of your life. In addition, when your spine curves, it becomes harder for cerebrospinal fluid to reach your brain, amplifying the intensity of your headaches.
It Affects Your Heart and Lungs
People with severe scoliosis can have heart and lung problems because their ribs contort in weird ways when rotating their spine. That prevents lungs from fully expanding, which may interfere with people’s ability to take full deep breaths.
In addition, it may affect the heart, causing it to work harder than it should, which could result in conditions like mitral valve prolapse, and premature heart failure in most severe cases.
It Can Disrupt Digestion
An abnormal curvature of the spine can restrict certain parts of the digestive system, limiting its effectiveness. It could lead to constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux, nausea, and weight loss. Weight loss typically occurs because you feel full even if you don’t eat enough, and it’s also more challenging for your body to extract essential nutrients from food.
What to Do About Scoliosis?
Severe cases of scoliosis require treatment to prevent this condition from affecting your health. Space City Pain Specialists have several options for the management of scoliosis symptoms. Feel free to request an appointment and get the help you need.