A slight arch or curve to the spine is normal and helps the human body balance, move and walk properly. Occasionally, however, the curve of a spine will occur side to side (laterally) in an S formation; this condition is called scoliosis. Approximately 3% of the population is affected by scoliosis. It can lead to physical deformation as discomfort, and in some instances scoliosis can cause significant health problems for the joints, lungs and heart, as well as irritation to soft tissue and the erosion of vertebrae. Some early symptoms of scoliosis include an aching back, pain, fatigue and an appearance of even shoulders or hips.
There are three types of scoliosis. Congenial scoliosis occurs in the womb and involves fused vertebra that eventually lead to malformation of the spine. Neuromuscular scoliosis is the result of poor quality muscle control, and is often found in individuals with muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, cerebral palsy and polio. The most common form of scoliosis is idiopathic scoliosis, which is most likely hereditary. Idiopathic scoliosis is typically diagnosed in children, mostly girls, between the ages of 10 and 14 years old.
Treatment of scoliosis depends on the type, the degree of intensity of the curve and the curve’s location in the spine. Many children with idiopathic scoliosis simply outgrow the condition, but in some cases it needs to be corrected with a special back brace such as a TLSO brace. On rare occasions scoliosis surgery is required, where the curve is surgically corrected and the relevant vertebrae are fused. Post surgury a medical brace is used to stabilize the spine for an expedient recovery.
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