Lumbar scoliosis: learn more about symptoms, causes and treatments

There are several diseases that can affect the spine, among them lumbar scoliosis. It is characterized by the curve of the spine to one side, which can be shaped like a C or S. This is a disease that scares when the diagnosis is received, but few people know exactly what the problem is.

Thinking about it, we created this post to explain a little more about what lumbar scoliosis is, in addition to its causes and treatments. Continue reading to check it out!

What is lumbar scoliosis?

Lumbar scoliosis occurs when a part of the spine curves to one side. This can happen anywhere in the spine, but it is most common in the lower back and chest level. This is a problem that can affect people of all ages, even children.

However, in childhood, there is usually no treatment, because with growth, the problem corrects itself. However, depending on age and degree of curvature, physical therapy may be necessary. In addition, there are more serious cases of the disease that require surgery, but it is rare.

What are the symptoms?

Early lumbar scoliosis can be difficult to identify. The symptoms are few, and only when the patient bends the trunk forward is it possible to perceive the curvature.

Some of the main signs of the problem that help in the identification are:

  • one shoulder higher than the other;
  • asymmetrical shoulders or hips;
  • pelvis tilted to one side;
  • clothes do not fit properly;
  • uneven leg length;
  • muscle pain.

What are the causes?

There are three types of scoliosis: congenital, neuromuscular and idiopathic. Each can have different causes. Below we explain more about them:

  • congenital: this type of scoliosis results from a problem in the formation of the bones of the spine or in the fusion of the bones of the spine. It can occur during the development of the fetus;
  • neuromuscular: in this case, scoliosis is caused by a neurological problem, such as cerebral or muscular paralysis, and due to muscular dystrophy, causing muscle weakness;
  • idiopathic: as the name suggests, this type of scoliosis has no known cause. It is usually found in children and adolescents, being the most common.

Some risk factors can contribute to the onset of the problem, among them are age (scoliosis can appear at the most accentuated stages of growth), family history, and sex – women are more likely to develop the disease.

How is the diagnosis made?

The diagnosis of lumbar scoliosis is made after consultation with a specialist. During the exam, the professional analyzes all risk factors and family history. In addition, a physical examination is performed to check for signs of the problem.

Imaging tests (X-ray, tomography and magnetic resonance ) and neurological examination to assess muscle weakness may also be ordered .

What are the treatments?

The treatment is developed after analyzing the case of each patient and depends on the degree of scoliosis. Most of the time, for  children and adolescents, only follow-up and clinical reassessments are performed.

However, there are several types of treatments. Below we explain a little about the most common ones:

Vest

The orthosis vest is recommended for children and adolescents, and is indicated to slow the progression of the curve. There are several types of vests and each has its proper use.

This treatment option does not reverse scoliosis, but assists in correcting the spine, depending on the specific characteristics of each curvature.

Physiotherapy

After analyzing and identifying the problem, a treatment with physiotherapy is developed to help correct or minimize lumbar scoliosis. For this, exercises are performed and ultrasound and RPG equipment is used

At the end of the physiotherapy treatment, other activities and practices are indicated to maintain the result and prevent the spine from bending again.

Surgery

Surgery is the treatment for lumbar scoliosis considered the most aggressive alternative, being indicated for the most severe cases. Basically, it fuses the spine, which reduces the curve of the spine, preventing the evolution of the problem.

Due to its severity, the procedure is only recommended in cases where the benefits outweigh the risks.

In addition to those mentioned, acupuncture, chiropractic, yoga, massage and pilates are some other activities that can assist in the treatment of lumbar scoliosis. They can help to strengthen the muscles and reduce the pain caused by the disease.

How does surgery work?

Because it is aggressive and invasive, surgery can be considered a risk and is not recommended for those with mild or moderate lumbar scoliosis. The procedure involves the following steps:

Bone grafts

Two or more vertebrae (spine bones) are connected with new bone grafts to keep the spine part straight while healing. Metal rods, screws, hooks and wires can be used.

Intensive care

Surgery can last from 4 to 8 hours, and after the patient is transferred to the ICU (Intensive Care Unit), which receives intravenous and medications for pain relief.

In most cases, discharge from the ICU takes place within 24 hours, however, hospitalization is still necessary between 7 to 10 days.

Recovery

The patient can resume the routine between 4 to 6 weeks. However, the practice of physical activities tends to take longer: only one year after the surgery.

In some cases it is necessary to use a back brace to support the adaptation of the spine. The patient must return to the hospital every 6 months so that the nails are stretched –  an outpatient procedure, without the need for hospitalization.

Lumbar scoliosis is a progressive disease and in its initial stage it can be difficult to identify. If you are suspicious of the disease, seek a specialist doctor to make the diagnosis and indicate the best treatment.

So, what did you think about knowing more about lumbar scoliosis? Was the information helpful? If you have any further questions, leave a comment below!

 

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