Scoliosis is a disease of the spine which affects about 2% – 3% of the pediatric population and up to 30% of adults worldwide. The basic meaning of scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine (levoscoliosis – is a curve to the left, dextroscoliosis – is a curve to the right). The general appearance of the spine of a person with scoliosis is in the shape of an “S” or “C”, but with x-ray or MRI you will certainly see a more complex three-dimensional deformity similar to a spiral staircase. A diagnosis of scoliosis can be described as Cobb angle (curvature) exceeding 10 degrees with a rotation of the vertebrae. Cobb angle exceeding 25 degrees are considered significant and an angle exceeding 40 degrees is viewed as severe.
There are two main classifications: Firstly there is idiopathic which means the cause is not clear and contains about 80% of cases. In the remaining 20% of cases there are more obvious causes such as: spinal cord injuries causing paralysis, bone deformity, legs are of different length, congenital, neuromuscular disorders, degenerative diseases etc. Scoliosis causes remain a mystery to the medical community, and there are many theories that have not yet been tested. One theory being tested is a genetic connection, which is why it’s recommended if family member is diagnosed with a scoliosis, then the whole family be tested. Still at the testing stage, a genetic test has been developed by scientists at Sainte-Justine Hospital in Montreal and it looks very promising for genetic screening of individuals at risk.