Effects of Scoliosis and Future Directions
What health problems might I have later in life as a result of scoliosis?
Problems with scoliosis later in life are related to the size and location of the curve in the spine. In general, people with curves less than 30 degrees have the same risks for back pain as people without scoliosis. People with larger, untreated curves (over 50 to 60 degrees) are more likely to develop back pain, particularly in the lower back. Patients with severe back pain should be carefully evaluated for other causes of back pain than scoliosis. Elderly patients with scoliosis may have greater back pain due to arthritis or disc disease in the spine. Severe scoliosis may be associated with diminished lung function due to distortion and stiffness of the rib cage.
Will having idiopathic scoliosis limit the type of jobs I can do?
No, with appropriate management and treatment if indicated, it should not.
Does scoliosis affect childbearing?
There have been many studies on scoliosis and pregnancy, and none have shown difficulties in childbearing in patients with scoliosis. There are no increases in fetal distress, premature deliveries, or problems with delivery. Interestingly, one study shows that the need for cesarean section was half of the national average in the women with scoliosis. In addition, pregnancy does not typically cause a significant increase in the degree of scoliosis in an unfused spine.
Can I have an epidural in the future?
Yes, you can get an epidural as an anesthetic for delivery. Very severe curves may be technically difficult, but epidurals might still be possible. If you have had a spinal fusion, be sure your obstetrician and anesthesiologist know what levels of fusion have been performed.
Does having scoliosis make me more prone to osteoporosis?
There is some controversy about whether scoliosis might contribute to bone loss (osteoporosis), but there is no hard evidence to prove the relationship. Keeping your bones healthy by not smoking, getting adequate calcium and vitamin D, and plenty of weight-bearing exercise, is good advice for those who have scoliosis and those who do not.
What scoliosis research is currently being conducted?
At present, the main research focus in idiopathic scoliosis is investigation into the cause of the condition. There are many factors that may contribute to curving of the spine. The main factors currently being studied are genetics (heredity), soft tissue problems (bone, muscle, ligaments, and disks), vertebral growth problems, and central nervous system disorders.