Scoliosis (Greek skolios = crooked) describes a misalignment of the spine, which is characterized by lateral bending and rotation around the longitudinal axis. It is one of the most common and longest-known orthopedic conditions.
A healthy spine consists of about 33 vertebrae: seven cervical vertebrae, twelve thoracic vertebrae, five lumbar vertebrae, five fused sacral vertebrae and about four – also fused – coccyx vertebrae. The vertebral bodies are connected to the adjacent vertebrae and ribs by bony processes.
When viewed from the side, the spine is shaped like a double “S”. The cervical and lumbar spine each curve forward (lordosis), the thoracic and sacral spine (sacrum) backward (kyphosis).
The causes for the development of scoliosis are diverse and range from congenital malformations to muscular or nerve damage after accidents or certain diseases. The curvature leads to an asymmetry of the upper body with shoulder elevation. A rib hump forms on one side and a rib valley on the opposite side. This malposition increases more and more, especially during youth, with increased body growth and at the same time leads to a stiffening if not actively treated.
The permanent misalignment of the spine leads to faster wear and tear, so that patients with scoliosis can suffer from considerable symptoms as they get older.
Scoliosis is defined as a lateral curvature of the spine of 10 degrees or more. This is measured using the Cobb angle, which the back specialist can determine in the X-ray image. The prognosis with early treatment is usually quite good.
The type of therapy depends primarily on the cause of the scoliosis. Subsequently, the patient’s age and the extent and progression of the disease are taken into account. In many cases, infant scoliosis can be cured with consistent prone positioning and various physiotherapy exercises. Here an attempt is made to guide the normal movements of the child in order to correct the incorrect posture.