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Jan 12, 2012

Healthy Living examines the curves in scoliosis

Do you notice an unusual tilt in your body? Do your child’s proportions seem asymmetrical?  It could be scoliosis.  Find out more about the symptoms and treatment options in tonight’s edition of Healthy Living.

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

The image of the flexing and twisting of the vertebrae is one we’ve learned from our earliest science classes. It is natural for the spine to curve in some areas but for some their spine can undergo abnormal side to side curving. The condition is called scoliosis. Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr Francis Smith tells us about the difference between the normal spine and those with scoliosis.

Dr. Francis Smith, Orthopedic Surgeon

Francis Smith

“The spine extends from the base of your head to your tail bone and we divide it into different segments. The neck for example we call the cervical spine the chest area, behind the ribs we say that’s the thoracic spine and from below the ribs to your lower back we call that the lumbar spine and then there’s the sacrum and the tailbone. Scoliosis is sideways curvature of the spine. In other words normal people if you look at them from in front for from behind their spine should be straight. But with scoliosis you would perceive a curve and it can be an “s” type curve or a “c” type curve which is an abnormality.”

Scoliosis is most common in the lumbar region but a severe curve can affect all three regions of the spine. In the majority of cases, the cause of scoliosis is unknown or ‘idiopathic’. It has been found to occur in several members within a family so there “may” be a genetic link.

Parents, once observant, can easily notice some of the early signs of scoliosis.

Dr. Francis Smith

“Usually you look at the child shoulder height and you look and make sure both shoulders are at the same level. You would look at shoulder blades and make sure that one isn’t more prominent. And then you would turn them around and look at the chest; usually you would perceive that one side of the chest appears higher than the other. You look at the hip, waistline and limb length discrepancy and that’s how you tell without even doing an x-ray. If you notice then the next test would be to do just a plain film with the child standing erect. Usually the curve start worsening before there is a growth spurt, so that’s right before puberty which is usually before age 12 – 13 and then if you’re careful, you can notice this asymmetry, so that’s usually when your curves start worsening.”

According to Dr Smith, mild cases of scoliosis can go undetected until adulthood usually then the pain becomes severe. He’s encountered patients who confirm a curvature of their spine as late as in their 80’s.  The ideal situation is early detection especially to determine if corrective measures are necessary.

Dr. Francis Smith

“We usually divide these things into mild, moderate or severe cases and then we do our measurements. So, as a rule, if the curve is progressing and we make a calculation, you certainly wouldn’t want a curve to be, we have angles, we’re particularly careful looking at angles approaching thirty-five degrees or forty degrees. So usually before a child is seventeen or eighteen in Belize we’d make a referral. We have picked up for instance children who are seven years old, and if it goes unnoticed, the curve progresses and it compromises the vital organs like your lungs and your heart and again especially in Belize, these are extremely expensive surgeries. So we have had the good fortune of the people from Shriners here, but on children. So the minute you become nineteen or twenty you don’t have that option. So it is extremely important that you stream these children and that you come to a diagnosis and make sure that if anything can be done, it’s done before they are eighteen or nineteen years old.”

He urges parents to pay special attention to their young girls. In his practice, Dr Smith has seen more females than males with scoliosis and he finds the curving worse for females as well.  However, if you or your child does have a mild curvature of the spine, life can continue as normal but muscle toning and posture training is vital to your quality of life.

Dr. Francis Smith

“There are many people living with scoliosis and lots of them live very happy normal lives so one doesn’t have to be terribly worries. It’s the same advice as other people. You don’t want to be obese you don’t want to be overweight, you want to be regularly exercising, you want to watch your posture at all time. So posture training is a constant and exercising and makes sure you’re core muscles, your abdominal, your paravertibrals, your gluteals and your quadriceps are well toned and support the back. And lead a normal life.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “Healthy Living examines the curves in scoliosis”

  1. camra says:

    me Bali Feste!!! curve it up

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