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Fact or Fiction: Sifting through Scoliosis Myths

Dec 15, 2009

Scoliosis, a side-to-side curvature of the spine, affects people of all ages and walks of life. According to the National Scoliosis Foundation, six million people are impacted by the condition. While scoliosis can be potentially debilitating, in the past 20 years tremendous progress has been made in treating the disease, especially with early detection.

“While treatment can be delivered to patients at any age, curves in the spine progress most rapidly during growth spurts in teenagers or during middle and older aged adults, especially with patients in their 50s to 60s,” said Purnendu Gupta, M.D., director of the University of Chicago Spine Center at Weiss Memorial Hospital and associate professor of surgery in orthopedics and rehabilitation medicine at the University of Chicago. “Early detection will help with reducing pain and improving quality of life.”

But many misconceptions about the disease still exist today. Check your scoliosis knowledge with these Healthful Hints from the experts at Weiss Memorial Hospital.

  • Scoliosis is only a problem for children: Many still believe scoliosis is only a problem for adolescents and that once a child has reached adulthood curves cannot progress or develop; however, scoliosis can progress at any age. And because it progresses slowly, the progression can go undetected for many years, which can lead to back pain.
  • Adult Scoliosis is not treatable: Although it’s true that treatment early in life is easier for patients to undergo, with more advanced surgical techniques, adults can receive successful treatment too.
  • Scoliosis is caused by poor posture of carrying heavy books: The vast majority of scoliosis cases are thought to be genetic in nature. However, adults can also develop scoliosis due to development of asymmetric disc arthritis in the spine.