Kyphoscoliosis, also known simply as scoliosis, is a condition characterised by a curve in the spine. It is generally found across family lines, though it can be caused by a degenerative joint condition. It is typically not a progressive disease, though there are a number of treatment options that can be utilised to prevent any complications, especially in children who are still growing.
Kyphoscoliosis is often identified when you bend forward and your spine appears curved as the skin stretches over it. Beyond this, other physical symptoms include an uneven waist or shoulders; a shoulder blade that sticks out, becoming more prominent than the other; an unnatural lean to one side; and fatigue. Severe cases of kyphoscoliosis can cause difficulty breathing or back pain, and if the spine begins to twist in addition to curve, the ribs on one side of the body can become more prominent than the other side's.
The most common form of therapeutic treatment for kyphoscoliosis is a brace. They are typically only utilised when you are still growing, and while they don't cure the condition, they do prevent the condition from getting worse. Braces can be worn under the clothing (thoracolumbosacral orthosis) or around the entire torso (Milwaukee brace), though the latter is not often used today. The brace is only effective if worn according to the instructions. A number of other braces are constantly being tested, though their effectiveness has yet to be determined. As such, you should discuss with your doctor the best possible options for your individual case.
For severe cases, such as when the curve is over 40 degrees, surgery is most often used due to the potential for a worsening of the condition as the child grows. In kyphoscoliosis surgery, the vertebrae that follow along the curve are fused together and held in place with metal rods, screws and wires, which are left in the body to prevent the need for additional surgeries. They also possess the potential to straighten the curve. The procedure takes several hours and is completed through an incision made in the back. Over time, the vertebrae will fuse together, and any progression of the curvature of the spine is halted. Severe cases may require additional surgeries performed on the sides of the body.
If you use a brace, it may be uncomfortable or aesthetically unpleasing, causing a drop in self-esteem. Thankfully, over time the brace will conform to your body, and it can be taken off if needed, such as to play sports. The side effects of surgical kyphoscoliosis correction are far more damaging and can include infection, excessive bleeding, nerve damage and pain. The hospital stay may last up to seven days, and you may have to wait several months before resuming normal physical activity.
The method of treatment used is dependent on the severity of the condition, age, overall health and family history. For children who are young and still growing, treatment may be postponed in favour of observation to see if the curvature worsens. This should be checked every four to six months until the child has reached physical maturity, though frequent checkups are recommended for adults as well.
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