Traumatic Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a condition where the spine takes on a lateral curvature, as opposed to a straight spine as it would look if you were able to see through the body back-to-front, or front to back. If you were to look at a lateral (sideways) view of the spine, the spine would have four curves, a forward curvature in the neck region, then a backwards curve in the chest, followed by a forwards curve in the lower back, follow by a sacrum and coccyx that curve backwards one last time.

These curvatures are normal, and contribute towards helping the discs and other soft tissues of the back to disperse some of the gravities energy. The side to side curvature of a scoliosis spine, as experienced in patients, and seen on X-rays and MRIs, is not ideal however, and may contribute to back pain and stress on the structures of the back. If the degree of abnormal lateral curvature is relatively mild and not progressing, it may not require medical intervention, especially in cases where patients don't report any symptoms. In most cases, the cause of scoliosis is due to a congenital condition that is present at birth, or that occurs during child development of no known cause. Scoliosis may also develop as a symptom of a neuromuscular condition, such as spinal muscular atrophy, cerebral palsy, and spina bifida. As we age, degenerative changes to the joints and discs of the spine may cause it to bend laterally in a condition known as degenerative scoliosis. In still other cases, the architecture of the spine may change due to a traumatic injury, causing an abnormal curvature to develop. Let's take a closer look at the causes and treatment options for traumatic scoliosis.

Traumatic scoliosis is one type of adult scoliosis that occurs due to a traumatic injury. Traumatic scoliosis usually occurs as a result of a fracture to the spine (spinal fracture). In most cases, the spine has developed into maturity, and had a normal curvature before the accident or trauma that fractured the spine.

Traumatic scoliosis may also include injuries to structures outside of the spine, or connect to the spine to hold it in alignment. These musculoskeletal conditions that may also cause traumatic scoliosis include injury to the tissues and muscle, unrelated surgery, and complications from radiation treatment (radiation therapy).

Severity. The severity of the condition depends on whether the curvature progresses and the degree of the angle of curvature. Curves that are 30 degrees or less are considered mild. These types of curvatures aren't likely to cause back pain, though they are sometimes discovered as a result of diagnostic X-Ray tests for back pain. More often, however, mild scoliosis is discovered for X-Ray studies that were ordered for unrelated medical conditions, such as chest X-Rays for chronic cough. For mild cases of scoliosis, the course of treatment will be no treatment and follow-up X-Rays to see if the condition is progressing. If the condition is progressing, bracing and physical therapy may be ordered to see if the curve can be reversed, or to at least halt the progression of the severity of the curvature.