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Spinal Deformity is easily treatable- A myth or the truth?

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Awareness is the key to prevent Spinal Deformity

By: Dr. Arvind Kulkarni

With the rapid increase in the number of cases reported of Scoliosis, Kyphosis and Lordosis, commonly known as Spinal Deformities, the need of awareness for the spine related ailment has grown substantially. Spinal Deformity refers to the unusual curve or rotation of the spine causing problems for the patient to perform their daily chores.

The spine consists of multiple Vertebrae and Discs connected together in order to provide flexibility and support to the body to function properly. Deformities in this elegant structure can lead to pain in the spine and lower back, a person to feel off balance or have trouble walking properly or in some worse cases a visible curve. These abnormal curvatures in the spine can even put it out of its natural alignment.

While age plays a major role in the degeneration of the spine, poor body posture, obesity and lifting heavy weights can also be the risk factors in cases of Spinal Deformity. In some cases, it has been observed that spine deformity can be congenital i.e. since the birth which happens due to a malfunction of the genes that regulate spinal development in the embryo.

Spinal Deformity can also occur because of various kinds of diseases, Infectious Diseases like Spinal Tuberculosis (TB) which destroys the bones and other structures of the spine, neuromuscular diseases like muscular dystrophy which weakens the muscles supporting the spine, Inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis, that can cause bone spurs to develop and push the vertebrae out of its alignment.

According to recent reports, a minimum of 2 in every 10 people are likely to suffer from some form of Spinal Deformity, thus making it a major problem for global health in the near future. While the reasons for these spine deformities may vary, the diagnosis requires multiple physical and imaging examinations such as MRI or CT scans in order to analyze the internal structure of the spine for the doctors to move forward with the best possible treatment.

Since surgical or operative methods are tried to be avoided in treating any form of ailment in India, bracing, pain medications and regular physical therapy sessions are given the first preference to relieve the pain of the patient. Surgeries become necessary when the curve of the spine starts compressing other organs or if the pain becomes severe for the patient. In cases of definite need of intervention, a combination of screws and rods are used to realign the spine.

Brace treatment is used to help relieve adults of their growing chronic back pain, the device is worn around the torso to prevent the curve from getting worse and decrease the chances of intervention. It slows the progression of the condition in children or adolescents whose bones are still growing. These braces put pressure on the spine to prevent it from curving more than it already has.

Spinal Deformity Surgery is a complicated complex procedure with a high frequency of complications but with the recent advancements in technology and healthcare, these surgeries have been made easier to perform. The primary goal of these procedures is to achieve a balanced spinal alignment. Some patients may undergo limited decompression or fusion surgeries.

The writer works at Mumbai Spine Scoliosis and Disc Replacement Centre, Mumbai

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