Monday, December 19, 2005


Every person's spine curves. A certain amount of curvature is necessary for people to balance, move, and walk properly. But three people out of 100 have a condition that causes the spine to curve too much in the wrong direction. This condition is called scoliosis (pronounced sko-lee-o-sus). The name comes from the Greek word "skoliosis," which means curvature.

What Is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is sort of a medical mystery - no one knows what causes the most common form of scoliosis, idiopathic scoliosis. (Idiopathic is a medical term that means it's not known what caused the condition or disease.) The condition can be hereditary, so a person who has scoliosis may have family members who have it. Girls are much more prone to developing severe cases of spinal curvature than boys are: Teenage girls over the age of 9 are five times more likely to be diagnosed with the condition than boys of the same age.

Many times, a person with scoliosis has been developing the condition since childhood. But because scoliosis can develop very gradually, in most cases it isn't diagnosed until a person is between the ages of 10 and 14. In scoliosis, the spine becomes abnormally curved from side to side into an "S" shape. When the curve gets severe, it can be visible and cause discomfort. If the curve gets really severe, it can even affect a person's breathing and heart function and can lead to damage in the joints of the spine and pain in adulthood.

How Is Scoliosis Diagnosed?
Some teens have visible signs of scoliosis. Sometimes a curvature of the spine is obvious or one shoulder blade is noticeably higher than the other one. Other times, though, it's not so obvious. And because scoliosis doesn't hurt or happen suddenly, it's not always easy to diagnose.

Some schools in the United States test for scoliosis. But the most accurate diagnosis is done by a doctor. Doctors routinely check teens for scoliosis during regular physical exams.

What Do Doctors Do?
After examining you closely, the doctor will decide if further treatment is needed. If he or she determines the curve isn't a problem, you may not need any treatment - just regular checkups to make sure the curve doesn't become larger. If the doctor wants to get a clearer view of your spine, he or she may order X-rays. If the doctor's exam or X-rays show a significant curvature, you'll be referred to an orthopedist.

Orthopedists, also known as orthopedic surgeons, are doctors who have had specialty training in the way the skeletal system functions and what can go wrong. They are skilled in making decisions about how to treat conditions like scoliosis. The orthopedist will examine you and study X-rays of your spine.

You may hear the orthopedist mention the Cobb angle. The Cobb angle is a measure of the curvature of the spine in degrees, and the number of degrees helps the doctor decide what type of treatment is necessary. A scoliosis curve of 10 to 15 degrees usually means that nothing needs to be done, except for regular checkups until pubertal maturation and growth are complete (the curvature of the spine usually doesn't get worse after that point). If the curve is 20 to 40 degrees, the orthopedist will generally suggest a back brace. A Cobb angle of 40 or 50 degrees or more may mean that surgery is necessary.

Treating Scoliosis
About one in five teenagers with scoliosis needs to wear a back brace, and luckily, these braces are becoming better and better all the time. Teenagers who had scoliosis about a hundred years ago didn't have very comfortable options. In the beginning, patients were strapped to racks and their bodies were pulled every which way. Later, metal jackets were worn in an effort to straighten the curve, but these weighed about 30 pounds apiece. Eventually, simpler back braces were invented, but they still had to be worn almost all the time. Today's braces are better still: They do not always need to be worn full time. Braces are worn by about 20% of kids with scoliosis, and most kids only need to wear them for 18 to 20 hours a day. Many of them are constructed of lightweight materials. Several different types of braces are used, and the one that the orthopedist chooses depends on the teenager and the severity of the curvature. Some of the most frequently used braces include:
  • TLSO. This stands for thoracic-lumbar-sacral-orthosis, and depending on where you live, it may be called the New York, Wilmington, Boston, or Miami brace. This is a low-profile brace, which means it comes up under the arms. This brace is very comfortable, but it's not right for every person with scoliosis.
  • Wilmington jacket. This brace was developed at the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware. It's constructed of lightweight plastic and can be worn under clothes, so it isn't visible.
  • Charleston brace. This is also a low-profile brace, and it bends the spine in an effort to straighten the curve as much as possible to prevent the curve from worsening. This brace puts the wearer's body in an awkward position, though, so it can only be worn while sleeping.

Whichever brace is used, its function is the same: The brace acts as a holding device that keeps the spine from developing more of a curve. A brace won't ever make the spine straight, but if it does its job well, the curve won't increase more than 5 or 10 degrees.

Sometimes, even with a brace, surgery becomes necessary to correct the curvature of the spine. (About one or two out of every 10 teenagers with scoliosis must undergo surgery.) During the operation, the orthopedic surgeon removes tiny pieces of bone from the patient's pelvis (hipbone) and puts them in between the vertebrae in the spine to provide stability and prevent further side-to-side curving of the spine. The surgeon also uses metal rods, hooks, and wire to keep the spine straight until the bits of bone join together with the vertebrae.

The surgery usually takes between 3 and 4 hours. The patient is usually home within 1 week, and after 3 or 4 months, he or she can take part in most regular activities. After 6 months, the person can return to almost all activities, and after 1 year, he or she can return to contact sports.

After about a year, the bone fusion will be complete. The rods placed in the back during surgery don't limit movement much - it's still possible to bend down and move all different ways. The rods are left in the patient's back, but only because taking them out would involve another operation, which isn't necessary.

With the right kind of treatment - whether it involves a brace or surgery - almost every teen with scoliosis can have an active, normal life!



Nape tetiba aku cite pasal skoliosis? ;)


Anonymous said...

Hello Masy!
Surfing on the net trying to get some information about scoliosis... And it brought me to your blog... yes, scoliosis is a medical mistery! I was diagnostied with scoliosis when I was 15, and it has been a long and difficult path since then... I guess that you suffer from ssoliosis too... as you write about it in your blog.
Well, I just wrote to tell you hello from Spain- where are you from?? I don't know your language! = )
best wishes,


Masy said...

hi maria..
glad to know that my blog give this kind of info 2 u. and yup, i was diagnostied when i was 18 :) but, hey.. we still can have a normal life, rite!
i'm from malaysia, maria.. :) n thanks 4 dropping by, all over from Spain! ;)

Noushy Syah said...

akak masy...You sounds amazing in presenting this case of scolliosis!! A brave and informative entry really!! Keep it up lass rather than keeping the stereotype entry I guess this is something different and I personally say the best one!!!amongst the best*wink*.. A thumb up for you akak Masy.....luv from noushy...tgh cuti ni..I'm in Cardiff now...

Masy said...

ehehehee...lain ek..ehehe..akak copy je tu, nk tulis sndiri x pandai ler..nulis BI lak tu..kantoi..
neway mekasih aa noush..oooo..cuti ekk..have fun,k! ;)

Deanz said...

Salam Masy..
Sejak bila tukar profession ni? Dah jadi doktor pulak dah sekarang bomoh?

Masy said...

salam deanz,
alaaa..saje aa kasik kelainan sket..asik2 asmara chenta,asmara chenta (ikut intonasi haji bakhil). lgpon ramai org x tau pasal ni, kite cite aaaa..

apeee daaaa...

lady said...

salamm lalingss..
ermmm..sakit tak benda alah ni,less info laa saya ni,
how about SLE..dah pun meragut nyawa 7 sepupu2 saya..every year mengiringi jenazah satu persatu..

~~masih blur..

Masy said...

salam laling..
skoliosis..awk x akan rasa sakitnya, n x perasan dat u got scoliosis. hanya org len, khususnya doktor yg leh detact scoliosis.

klu SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus)lak x silap sy, berlaku bila antibodi dalam badan kita yg sepatutnya melawan penyakit, bertindak against itself. SLE akan affect bahagian2 badan dan jugak otak. mcm kes Noraini (budak PLKN) yg kene SLE, dia bnasib baik sbb bjaya detact mende tu n ada bantuan dr Sultan Pahang utk tampung perbelanjaan perubatan.

u bole dptkan info ttg SLE ni through net. sy pon x tau sgt.. ;)

arianna said...

wah, wah, wahh... 2,3 ari aku x jengok blog hang.. tengok2 da jd dokto pulak daa. btw elok jugak ko cite sbb org ramai x tau. salah satu contohnyer ha aku ni.. mekasih la ekk..

Masy said...

ur most welkem..!
doktor ke?aku ni jd nurse pon x layak..uhuhuhu..

acik ila said...

Assalamualikum masy.. ehh aper ke mende penyakit nie masy? acik tak pernah tau selepas baca artikel nie.. tu pun masih blurr lagikk.. nanti kalau ada masa kite citer panjang2 ekk.. sbb acik skang nie dah kurang berblog.. perut acik sakit sket.. pastu macam bz.. dah tu ada hati nak bercuti lak tuh.. heheheh.. heheheh..

Masy said...

wslm acik..
ape bende penyakit ni?haaa..g baca balik smpi paham...ehehehehhe..

kak lin said...

A very good info.. never heard of it before though.. curve too much in the wrong direction?? camne tu ekk?? anyway, it's a very good entry dear, keep it up :)

Masy said...

kak lin,
biasanya curve tulang belakang kita ni kita dpt tgk dari sisi laa kan (tgk X ray la), tp bg pesakit skoliosis, tulang belakang tu bengkok mcm huruf S dari kiri ke kanan, mcm gmbr X ray yg org attachkan tuh. err...akak paham ke org ckp ape ni??ehehehe..

akak ingat berita adik beradik kembar yg wat pembedahan utk betulkan tulang belakang awal2 tahun aritu?(adik dia lepas, akaknya kene wat 2nd operation). dorg tu pesakit skoliosis tp da critical stage, da lebih dari 50 degrees bengkoknye, sbb tu kene operate.

mcm org, ok lagi..mine below 10 degrees, x perlu operate (^_^)v

Anonymous said...

Yes, Masy (by the way, I like your name!!), we can have a normal life, although being a bit 'twisted' = )
I think that one of the positive things of internet is the possibility of reading people's different experiences from all over the world, and realised... that at the end, we are all different but similar at the same time... Best wishes!!

Masy said...

dear maria,
twisted? :)

It’s not only getting the information and experience, but yet, getting new friends from somewhere we didn’t expect – like we do! ;) best wishes to you too, and hope that you’ll keep coming here, ok!

GRuNGe said...

Erk, ko nak jadi doktor plak ke Masy?