In most cases of scoliosis, the patient's spinal curvature is not triggered by any known cause. However, this is not the case for all forms of the condition. Some types of scoliosis occur as a result of other medical conditions; this is true of neuromuscular scoliosis (commonly referred to as myopathic scoliosis).
What is neuromuscular scoliosis?
People with this type of scoliosis are impacted by disorders of the brain, the spinal cord, and the muscular system, the weakness of which leads to an abnormal spinal curvature. The rate and risk of progression is often much higher than for other types of scoliosis, which makes neuromuscular scoliosis one of the most severe forms of the condition.
The following conditions are often linked to neuromuscular scoliosis:
- Cerebral Palsy: This condition causes muscle weakness, uncontrolled body movements, poor co-ordination, and other issues. To find out more about its connection with scoliosis, read our blog post here.
- Spinal Muscular Atrophy: A disease which impacts the nerve cells connecting the brain and spinal cord to the body's muscles. With progression, the disease can lead to a gradual weakening of the muscles, making physical activities more and more difficult. Find out more in our previous blog post.
- Spina Bifida: A condition which impacts the development of the spine, leaving a gap. This leads to mobility issues, bowel problems, and a build-up of fluid on the brain.
- Muscular Dystrophy: This term refers to a collective group of medical conditions which cause the muscles to weaken, leading to a progressive loss of physical ability. Mutations cause changes in the muscle fibres, interfering with their ability to function. In most cases, these mutations are passed down genetically from parent to child.
- Spinal Cord Injuries: Bruises and tears which cause damage to the spinal cord, impacting the ability of the brain to transmit messages to the rest of the body.
How does neuromuscular scoliosis affect the patient?
- Progression: Due to the fact that this type of scoliosis is common in children with the conditions listed above, it can often become worse during growth spurts. This progression can lead to a collapsed torso and a raised diaphragm, which impacts the patient's lung function. This can be even more severe in cases where the muscles which control breathing are already weak.
- Symptoms: Often, patients with neuromuscular scoliosis who are able to walk will display similar symptoms to those with idiopathic scoliosis: tilted shoulders, uneven waist/hips, and prominence of the ribs on one side. For patients who require the use of mobility aids due to the severity of their condition, the symptoms can include those mentioned above, as well as changes in overall posture, a tilted pelvis, progressive loss of the ability to sit unsupported, and pressure sores. In addition to these symptoms, patients may also suffer from other types of spinal curves, including kyphosis and lordosis.
How is the Condition Treated?
While a brace may be suggested in an attempt to prevent the progression of the spinal curve, in the most severe cases, neuromuscular scoliosis surgery is usually recommended in order to halt the curve's development. The condition also calls for regular monitoring, with regular hospital appointments to assess the progression of the curve.
If possible, exercise is also recommended as a form of treatment for neuromuscular scoliosis, in order to strengthen the muscles surrounding the spine which have become weak as a result of the patient's condition. We at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic have treated numerous patients with neuromuscular conditions using our ScolioGold method
Would you like to find out how we can help to treat the symptoms of your neuromuscular scoliosis? Please click here to get in touch with the Scoliosis SOS team.