Thoracic Scoliosis refers to an abnormal curvature of the thoracic spine, characterized by a hump-like area in the midbody. This type of spinal curvature typically occurs in patients over the age of 20 years, although it can develop at any time. The main symptom of thoracic scoliosis is a hump above one hip or both, usually accompanied by pain and other signs of weakness.
Thoracic scoliosis is caused by abnormal changes in the growth of the bones in the scoliotic process of the vertebrae. The process of growing bones requires the help of cartilage cells. When the cartilage is damaged, the resulting bone will start to grow in a different way, causing the bone to break apart in the middle.
Thoracic scoliosis usually happens in the lower (or lumbar) part of the thoracic spine. In rare cases, thoracic scoliosis can cause one shoulder to seem higher than the other, or one leg to seem longer than the other, with a corresponding increase in pain.
In most cases, thoracic scoliosis is degenerative
The above statement simply means that it develops over time because of a breakdown of the vertebrae, as opposed to a more common adolescent idiopathic type, which simply presents no apparent cause. The main factor that affects the progression of this disorder is obesity.
Thoracic scoliosis commonly occurs on one side of the body, but it can also be located on both sides of the thoracic spine. The most common site for the disease is the left side of the thoracic spine, although it can also occur on the right side. Read: Diagnoses of Scoliosis
Thoracic scoliosis usually manifests on the
- Neck, and
Although there are some patients who do not present any symptoms at all. In severe cases, thoracic scoliosis can cause neck stiffness, decreased ability to move the arm or hand, and severe discomfort from the bone ache. The pain usually radiates down the arm and leg toward the elbow and upper shoulder, with intermittent shooting pains occurring along the side of the arm.
Pain that occurs at the ribcage, on the chest, back and shoulder blades can be very sharp, while other types of pain may be dull, persistent, or intermittent. The pain associated with thoracic scoliosis is typically described as
- Stabbing or
- Stabbing pains that radiate down one side of the arm, shoulder or thigh and sometimes down the opposite side of the leg and ankle.
Thoracic scoliosis is usually diagnosed based on the history of the
- Physical examination
- Blood test, and
- Laboratory tests
One of the most common tests used to diagnose this condition is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which can show images of damage to the vertebrae.
Thoracic scoliosis can also be diagnosed through ultrasound or computed tomography (CT) scan, although these tests may be unable to reveal exact causes of pain. Treatment usually includes pain relievers and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
Although this disease progresses slowly, if you notice the symptoms at an early stage and get treatment quickly, it can be easily controlled. Surgery can be done to remove the affected bones.
What to do when you notice the symptoms of scoliosis
Your doctor will ask you about your private lifestyle, including the frequency and intensity of your exercise and other activities. He or she will also look for any medical conditions that you may have been experiencing, as well as your family history of this disorder.
The scoliotic process is also referred to as the body’s natural healing process and helps to stabilize the joint. As the body heals itself, the affected bones can be replaced. If there are no bones that can be replaced, the spine will continue to develop new bone growth. Read more about the causes of scoliosis.
The most effective treatment for scoliosis is a combination of physical therapy and the use of a traction device to move the bones along the spine so they are aligned correctly in the scoliotic process. Once the damaged bones have been moved, it will not be necessary to replace the damaged bones, but rather build them up and heal the new bone growth.
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