Scoliosis is the sidewards curving of the spine, which causes deformity and asymmetry of the body at the shoulders, waist and hip region. It leads to an imbalance of the head over the pelvis.
This condition is predominantly seen in girls and can be noticed in the adolescent age.
The deformity progresses as the child grows. This deformity reduces the space available for the lungs in the chest, leading to respiratory difficulty and also abdominal capacity issue.
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Detected early and treated at an appropriate age, the deformity can be corrected comfortably.
It was a fine Wednesday morning, when 31-year-old Raju(name changed) walked into our Department.
He was barely able to walk a few steps without becoming breathless. Even in a resting position, he faced difficulty in breathing.
The lung condition was as a result of restriction by a deformity of the spine called Kyphoscoliosis, wherein the spine had deformed and was crooked.
This deformity was present since a young age. Raju had consulted a few surgeons who had advised surgery to correct the deformity.
He had been scared and refused to undergo any surgery. He was also told by some that it is dangerous to get operated at a young age. Also the social stigma and taboo associated with this had forced him to postpone the treatment.
lt had become a risky surgery at that stage, especially with regards to the lung condition and also the rigidity of the deformity. The entire team at the hospital was geared up for the challenge.
The surgery took a good 4 hours to position in the screws in the spine, which cut off a major part of the deformity, correcting it and fixing it in the corrected position.
All this was done without damaging the spinal cord, which was constantly being monitored with the help of the latest Neuromonitoring System.
Raju emerged out of the surgery safe, stayed in the ICU (which is rare in his practice of spine surgery) and was back in the ward in a couple of days.
By the second day, Raju was walking comfortably and went back home in a week. Two years now, he is leading a normal life, walking and doing all his activities like any other normal person, including practicing yoga.
Major Problems Related With Scoliosis:
- Pulmonary problems
- Neurological problems
- Ill-fitting dresses
- Pain as the child grows
- Short height
A lot of myths and misconceptions abound in the society, especially in the rural areas, where the disease is more prevalent.
There is a need to spread awareness about the safety of the surgery and the need to recognise and treat the deformity at an earlier age.
Not every case of spinal deformity requires surgery, some can be observed and managed with physiotherapy as well. However, these are usually the milder ones.
The onus of detection not only rests on the doctors, but also on the parents and educators. There is a need to educate the community at large and specifically parents and educators about spinal deformities.
M.S. (Orthopaedics) degree from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi
Dr. Mahesh is currently working as a Consultant Spine Surgeon and the Head at the Jain Institute of Spine care And Research (JISAR), Bangalore.