What Is Deformity of Spine?
Deformity of spine is any
abnormality of the formation, alignment, or shape of the vertebral column.
Other names for deformity of
- curvy spine
- spinal deformities
- misshaped spine
- deformed spine
- curved spine
- misshapen spine
- curvature of the spine
The spine is made up of over
25 small bones called vertebrae that support the upper body. The cervical spine
(C-spine) is the upper portion, comprised of seven vertebrae. It supports the
neck and head. The thoracic spine (T-spine) is comprised of 12 vertebrae, which
connect to the rib cage and support the torso. The lumbar spine (L-spine) has five
large vertebrae that support most of the body's mass and weight. The sacrum is
the base of the spine, and in most people is comprised of 2-4 partially fused
bones terminating in the coccyx within the pelvis. The normal human spine has
gentle curvatures, but when those curves are exaggerated, extreme, or displaced
they are considered deformities.
Some deformities are subtle
and not easily detected in a growing child. Some signs are:
- uneven shoulders
- uneven hips
- a protruding shoulder blade
- the head is not aligned in the midline over
Fatigue may be reported with
prolonged periods of sitting and standing.
Diagnoses that are associated with spine deformity include:
- spina bifida
- basal cell nevus syndrome
- Becker’s muscular dystrophy
- brittle bone disease
- Duchenne muscular dystrophy
- compression fracture of the back
- ito syndrome
- Marfan syndrome
- congenital scoliosis
- degenerative lumbar scoliosis
Diagnosis and Treatment
A physical examination by your doctor is
necessary to determine if a deformity of the spine is present. Screening
evaluations of children are routinely done in physician offices and at schools.
A scoliometer is used to measure the degree of curvature in the spine. However,
the results are not completely accurate. X-rays are done when spinal deformities are
suspected. An MRI may be done if further investigation is needed.
Treatment depends on the
diagnosis and the severity of the deformity. Any underlying illness or injury
resulting in the deformity requires prompt attention. Treatment for curvatures may
include bracing or surgery. Braces are worn under clothes to support the spine
in correct anatomical position. Referral to an orthotist who measures, fits the
brace, and provides support and feedback to the patient and clinical team will
be necessary. Surgery is recommended in cases where there is severe pain,
neurological problems, or curvature greater than 50 degrees. Several surgical
techniques are used to treat deformities of the spine.
Non-surgical management through exercise,
building muscle strength and tone, and weight maintenance has been found to be
beneficial to patients with some types of spinal deformities. Physical therapy may
be part of a team approach to the treatment plan for deformities of the
spine. Biofeedback has
been used to improve posture.