Dr Kelly Samson has a great interest in working with scoliosis and other postural abnormalities of the spine. She is an accredited scoliosis SpineCor Brace Fitter (UK) and specializes in the fitting of the dynamic corrective brace as well as had training on the more rigid-type braces. Kelly also runs the spinal curvature rehabilitation program which is essential in the management of scoliosis and hyperkyphosis.

What is Scoliosis - A Simple Explanation:

Scoliosis is most commonly perceived as a sideways curvature of the spine. However, in reality, it is much more complex. Scoliosis is not a curve as much as it is a helix; a three-dimensional “coiling” of the spine. As the spine rotates, it can cause changes in the appearance of the ribs, shoulders, and hips, which can lead to health problems, general discomfort and noticeable changes in appearance.

Who Does Scoliosis Affect:

Scoliosis is the most common spinal condition in children and adolescents and is also quite common in adults. One study found that nearly 20% of adults have scoliosis, and another found scoliosis in two-thirds of people over 60 years old. Scoliosis is typically more common in females than males. However, this is only true in adolescence and adulthood. In very young children, scoliosis can be found equally, or even more commonly, in males. Scoliosis affects people of all ethnicity and nationalities, although some populations seem more susceptible than others. It is not contagious, and it’s highly unlikely there is anything you can do to “get” scoliosis. The true cause of most cases is unknown. Scoliosis can cause health problems, but there isn’t always a correlation between the severity of the scoliosis and the symptoms it causes. Sometimes an individual with mild scoliosis can have a great deal of pain or postural changes, and sometimes an individual with severe scoliosis will have no pain or noticeable changes in their posture. Every person with scoliosis is different and deserves to be evaluated as such.

What Causes Scoliosis - The Million Dollar Question:

Scoliosis has been around for thousands of years, among people of every culture and country. Yet for all the time we have studied scoliosis, its true causes remain elusive. Some types of scoliosis have a directly identifiable cause. Neuromuscular scoliosis, for example, occurs when a disease such as muscular dystrophy or cerebral  palsy causes the spine to develop a scoliosis. Congenital scoliosis arises due to a failure of the bones to form properly. Degenerative scoliosis happens in late adulthood due to degeneration of the spinal discs and the spinal vertebrae. Traumatic scoliosis can occur as a result of an accident or surgery. All of these types of scoliosis, however, comprise less than 20% of the diagnosed cases. The vast majority of scoliosis cases diagnosed (over 80%) are termed idiopathic. Idiopathic means, “without known cause.” It doesn’t mean there is no cause - simply that it is not readily apparent.

We also know that scoliosis is not directly caused by problems with the genes. It is possible for certain genes to predispose an individual to develop scoliosis, but there is no way to tell just by looking at the genes if a person will develop scoliosis or not. Rather, it appears to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors that influences the development of scoliosis. Even in identical twins, it is possible for one twin to develop scoliosis but the other does not.

How is Scoliosis Diagnosed:

The diagnosis typically begins with a complete history followed by a thorough physical examination. A healthcare professional will examine the spine and look for any signs of scoliosis. X-rays will be taken in order to evaluate any tilt or rotation of the vertebrae causing a curvature. X-rays allow the doctor to confirm the diagnosis, monitor the degree and severity of the curve, and to assess the patient’s skeletal maturity


Scoliosis Fast Facts:

  • Scoliosis is the most common deformity of the spine

  • The condition causes the spine to abnormally curve sideways, into an “S” or “C” shape of more than 10 degrees

  • The condition can affect people of any age, but the most common age of onset is between the ages of 10 and 15

  • Each year, an estimated 30,000 children are fitted for braces and more than 100,000 children and adults diagnosed with scoliosis undergo surgery

  • People who have a family member with scoliosis are more likely to develop the condition

  • Although girls and boys are diagnosed with scoliosis in equal numbers, girls are eight times more likely to have a curve that progresses and requires treatment

  • Common signs and symptoms include: uneven shoulders, ribs, hips or waist, back pain, one shoulder blade sticking out, a rib hump at the back of the waist or ribs, one arm hanging lower than the other, discoloration or change in texture in the skin that covers the spine

  • In 85 percent of cases, the cause of scoliosis is unknown; this is called idiopathic scoliosis

  • One quarter of children with spinal curves require medical attention.

Important Signs to Look for when Suspecting Scoliosis:

  • Shoulders may not be the same height (one higher than the other)

  • Head is not centered directly above the pelvis

  • Rib cage is not symmetrical (ribs may be at different heights)

  • One shoulder blade is higher and more prominent (it sticks out)

  • One hip is more prominent (higher) than the other

  • The individual may lean to one side

  • One leg may appear shorter than the other

  • The waist appears uneven

  • Clothes do not fit or hang properly


Bracing for Scoliosis:

Currently, the spine medical community advocates bracing as the non-surgical treatment for idiopathic scoliosis. The objective of bracing treatment is to prevent the curve from progressing.

There are a number of bracing options, and doctors will recommend a particular back brace and bracing schedule based on factors such as the location of the curve, age, skeletal maturity and degree of curvature. Compliance with wearing the back brace as prescribed is clearly vital to the success of bracing treatment.

For more information about scoliosis bracing and rehabilitation therapy please send through a message.

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