Spine · Symptoms

Spinal Deformity

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Spinal Deformities

There are several different conditions that can cause a deformity of the spine. A spinal deformity is actually a symptom in which the normal curves of the spinal column become exaggerated, or the vertebral column may develop a lateral curve.  Scoliosis is the most common spinal deformity in which the spinal column develops a lateral curve, or bends in a lateral direction, usually in the mid-section or thoracic area of the spine. What causes scoliosis is many times unknown. Sometimes spinal deformities are present at birth (congenital). Other causes include abnormally formed vertebrae, paralysis of the muscles on one side of the spine, chronic low back and lower leg pain, poor posture, and uneven leg length.  

Spinal Deformities: Scoliosis

The most widely known Scoliosis definition in most medical dictionaries today is this: Scoliosis is a medical condition involving the sideways curvature of a person’s spine. The curve usually takes the form of an C- or S- shape.
Simply put, a normal person’s back, when examined, takes the form of a straight line running down the middle. When a person has Scoliosis, this straight line is curved. Scoliosis most often occurs during a person’s growth spurt just right before hitting puberty and can be mild and stay stable over time while others get progressively worse and show a significant degree of curvature.

Spinal Deformities: Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones that causes the bones to decrease in density and in mass. This means that the bones become weakened and brittle, and more likely to break. Sometimes bones become so brittle that even mild stress on them, such as coughing or a change in position can cause a fracture.  These fractures related to osteoporosis are most likely to occur in the spine, wrist or the hip. 
Osteoporosis is a polyetiological condition, this means it can be caused by a number of different conditions. Some of these include:
  • hormone imbalances or deficiencies
  • A lack of calcium
  • A lack of vitamin D
  • A sedentary lifestyle is associated with osteoporosis
  • Other medical conditions like thyroid disease or certain digestive disorders
  • Tobacco use can lead to osteoporosis
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Use of certain medications can lead to osteoporosis
  • There is also a genetic risk factor that has been linked to the development of osteoporosis

Spinal Deformities: Kyphosis

This spinal deformity is characterized by the pronounced rounding of the upper back. Mild forward rounding in the upper area of the spine is normal, but in this condition, the rounding is exaggerated. It is possible for kyphosis to occur in either sex and at any age, but it most commonly develops in women who are post-menopausal.  

Mild cases of kyphosis rarely cause problems, but in more severe cases, the deformity can be painful as well as disfiguring. Kyphosis that is related to aging usually happens when the bones of the spine (vertebrae) are weakened by osteoporosis, causing them to crack and collapse. Besides age-related kyphosis, other types of the condition sometimes occur in infants or teenagers. In these cases, the curve is caused by a malformation of the vertebrae or is due to the vertebrae wedging into improper alignment over time. 
The treatment for kyphosis depends on what is causing the condition, the symptoms it is producing and the age of the patient.

Spinal Deformities: Lordosis

This deformity is sometimes known as "swayback."  In lordosis, the lumbar curve of the spinal column, in the lower back, curves excessively inward. Many different conditions or situations may lead to the development of lordosis. It may be caused by pregnancy or by obesity, due to significant abdominal weight. Other possible causes include osteoporosis, rickets, poor posture, and spondylolisthesis.
Spinal Deformities: Spondylolisthesis
Spondylolisthesis is defined as the displacement or slippage of one your vertebra compared to another or all others. It is a condition that occurs when your vertebra (the bone in your back) slides forward and over the bone below it. 
Spondylolisthesis is derived from two words: "spondylo" meaning spine, and "listhesis" meaning slippage, so essentially the definition of spondylolisthesis is the slippage of the spine. Although the literal spondylolisthesis definition is the slippage of the spine, medical dictionaries use the spondylolisthesis definition of forwarding slippage of one of your vertebra.
Spondylolisthesis commonly occurs in the lumbosacral area or in the lower part of your spine. Commonly, spondylolisthesis can lead to your spinal cord or nerve roots being squeezed, causing immense pain and numbness in your back, which can radiate to your legs and cause weakness in them.
Spinal Deformities: Ankylosing Spondylitis
Ankylosing Spondylitis is a type of arthritis which causes recurring inflammation of the spinal bones and other joints such as sacroiliac joints. It is a chronic disorder which is also known as Marie-Strümpell disease or Bechterew's syndrome. The symptoms of this condition include pain and stiffness from the neck down to the lower back. Chronic inflammation of these leads to ankylosis (new bone formation in the spine) and spinal bones fuse together completely, resulting in a condition known as "bamboo spine", in which the spinal column becomes completely rigid. The changes can vary from mild to severe and may cause significant deformities.
Ankylosing Spondylitis is a systemic disease, which means that the symptoms of this condition are not just limited to the joints, It can also affect other areas of the body, such as the shoulders, ribs, pelvic bones, heels, and small joints of the upper and lower extremities. It can also affect eyes and cause inflammation (redness and pain) of the eyes, and rarely, heart and lung problems may also develop. People with the condition can also suffer from fever, fatigue, and loss of appetite.
Spinal Deformities: Spinal Fractures
Spinal fractures are tiny cracks that happen in a bone. They can be caused by repetitive force. This often occurs in athletes who are long-distance runners or jumpers. To know what are stress fractures, it's important to know that they can occur under normal circumstances in bone that has been weakened by a bone disorder like osteoporosis. 
Spinal fractures are most likely to occur the bones that bear weight in the foot and lower leg. Anyone can develop them, what are stress fractures, but athletes who participate in track and field events are the most like to experience them.  To reduce your risk of developing a stress fracture, start any new exercise program slowly. 
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