10 Symptoms of Scoliosis

By james
Reviewed: Dr. Gromatzky
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Our spines help to provide support for our upper body. They also contain the spinal cord, which is directly attached to the brain and is essential for many of our functions. While the spine is generally curved, it is completely straight when viewed from the front or back, except in people with scoliosis.

Scoliosis is a condition where the spine curves from side to side. This causes numerous developmental problems and can severely affect the patients’ posture and gait. It can also have a potentially adverse effect on the internal organs.

Depending on the severity of the condition, it can often be treated partly or sometimes in full. Below are 10 symptoms of scoliosis.


Symptom #1: Lying Curved to One Side

People tend to sleep in various positions, sleep in the same few positions, or even just one position, every night. How we sleep at night depends on a number of factors such as the shape of our bodies and influencing factors from when we were younger. Some people might find that the way they sleep is determined by scoliosis.

Babies with the condition will generally lie curved to one side all of the time. This is because the curvature of their spine means this is the only comfortable position for them. It is a symptom that can help get early treatment but is often not easily noticeable.


Symptom #2: Bulge in Side of Chest

Lying internally in the chest area is a collection of organs that are very important to us. These organs are also very delicate, but they are protected by a strong cage made of bone. We call this the ribcage and it helps make up the shape of the upper part of our body.

The shape is usually quite uniform, but scoliosis can cause a significant bulge to form in one side. This can be particularly noticeable in babies and can help in noticing the problem early on. Noticing it early can be very helpful when it comes to treating the condition.


Symptom #3: Heart and Lung Problems

There is a lot going on in the chest area. There are lungs, a heart, and major blood vessels, all of which are hard at work 24/7. They are generally packed in quite tightly, but they usually have all the space they need to work and to grow and develop. This is not always the case for people with scoliosis, though.

A curved spine can restrict the space available in the chest area. This can restrict the organs and blood vessels inside, hindering their ability to function as they should. This is potentially serious and is something that is usually found in infants with the condition.


Symptom #4: One Hip Appears Larger

The hips form an important part of our anatomy. They help to provide support for the upper body, while also enabling flexibility of the legs through the joint at the hip. Usually, our hips are both the same size as each other, although women generally have larger hips than men do.

Many people with scoliosis, though, will find that one of their hips appears to be more prominent than the other. This is because the curvature of the spine can cause one side to stick out more than the other. Despite this, the hips themselves might still be the same size as each other.


Symptom #5: One Shoulder Higher

The shoulder tends to be an area that is packed full of muscle. It needs to be because this is where we get a lot of our strength for lifting from, and we need to provide sufficient support to our arms. Each shoulder is just about identical to the other, even though one may be slightly larger than the other.

People with scoliosis, however, are likely to find that one shoulder is higher than the other due to the curvature of their spine. This can also make it difficult for them when it comes to lifting objects.


Symptom #6: Head Off-Center

The head is usually placed perfectly central on the top of our bodies. It is a good position for the head to be as it keeps it away from the ground, and also gives us a better viewpoint from which to spot food or predators. Patients with scoliosis, however, may have a head that is off-center to their body.

This is because the curvature of the spine can cause the head to grow at an awkward angle and the patient’s head might naturally lean to one side. It is something that can sometimes be treated, depending on the severity of the condition.


Symptom #7: Clothes Don’t Fit Well

Some of us are more fortunate than others when it comes to finding clothes that fit well. For some people, it seems that no matter what they try, it just doesn’t seem to fit properly. Many of these people are still fortunate in comparison to those that have scoliosis.

With a curved spine, other parts of the body are also likely to lose their symmetry. This will cause the body’s dimensions to be somewhat different from the norm, and there are likely to be few clothes made that will fit well. Those that are fortunate enough may be able to have some clothes tailor-made for them.


Symptom #8: Unsymmetrical Rib Cage

Our rib cage is made of 24 ribs of different sizes. Twelve of these are found on each side, forming in the middle at the sternum, which is a protective plate of bone. Together, these bones form a protective cage that is effective at protecting the delicate organs inside. With 12 ribs each side, and with each corresponding rib the same size and shape, our rib cages are symmetrical.

For people with scoliosis, though, the rib cage is often not symmetrical. The curvature of the spine will often mean that one side of the rib cage is higher than the other. Each side could also be a different shape to the other.


Symptom #9: Uneven Legs

Our legs do a great deal of work for us. They give us mobility and strength and allow us to travel great distances. What’s more is that having two legs, as opposed to four like so many other animals, leaves our hands free when we are walking. This helped give us an evolutionary advantage that helped us become the dominant species on Earth.

In people with scoliosis, though, one leg can be a different length to the other. This will obviously make it quite difficult for them when walking. It is also thought that uneven legs could be the cause of scoliosis in some cases.


Symptom #10: Leaning

Standing up straight is the usual posture for people. We could lean to either side, but it is not a good idea to do this for too long. This is because standing straight keeps the center of balance on top of the spine pushing down, helping to distribute our weight evenly.

However, this is not so easy in people with scoliosis. The curvature of their spine means that they have no choice but to lean to one side and their spine just may not allow them to stand straight. In some cases, this can be treated according to the severity of the condition.


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