Scoliosis or curved spine refers to the condition whereby the spine bends laterally. ‘Thoracic Scoliosis’ is the deformity of the ribcage together with the mid portion of the spinal area and is the most common form of scoliosis.
In most thoracic scoliosis cases, the curvature of the spine in the ribcage and chest area is typically to the right. This is known as Dextroscoliosis and is the most common direction of spinal curvature. It can present as a C-shaped curve or S-shape curve if there is another curve in the lower (lumbar) area of the spine. As the curvature of Dextroscoliosis cases is to the right, it naturally avoids the heart which is located on the left quadrant of the torso.
Idiopathic Thoracic Scoliosis
Medical conditions classified as being ‘idiopathic’ has no known causes and more than half of scoliosis cases are considered as such. There have been recent studies, however, that show that adolescent idiopathic scoliosis may be caused by genetics, although these results are not definitive yet.
Congenital Thoracic Scoliosis
This type of thoracic scoliosis develops in utero between weeks 3-6 of a pregnancy and is the second most common form of thoracic scoliosis. About 15% of cases are congenital and is due to a formation or segmentation failure to the vertebrae.
Neuromuscular Thoracic Scoliosis
Neuromuscular scoliosis occurs in 10% of all cases of scoliosis and is commonly associated with an underlying nerve or muscular condition such as spinal bifida, celebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord tumors and spinal injury leading to paralysis.
In severe thoracic scoliosis cases, lung and heart function may be affected which may lead to the patient suffering from breathing difficulties and other heart conditions.
The shoulder blades of the patient may be more prominent than normal and this is due to the rib cage having rotated as a result of the curved portion of the spine present in thoracic scoliosis cases. The asymmetrical development of the ribcage may also lead to one shoulder being higher than the other or present in having one leg appearing to look like it is longer than the other.
Thoracic scoliosis patients who suffer from severe lung and/or heart issues that are a result of the scoliosis will require immediate treatment before further complications arise. Treatments that may alleviate the problem include wearing a brace, physical therapy and surgery.
In cases where the lungs are affected, the use of airway systems like nasal continuous positive airflow pressure has proved helpful in improving breathing and lung capacity. For children who suffer from scoliosis and show signs of lung problems, breathing exercises may be effective in alleviating the problem.