Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Scoliosis And My F'd Up Back

Scoliosis And My F'd Up Back

Scoliosis is a genetic or non genetic (in rare cases) defect that causes a curvature in the spine. It is relatively common and can range from being a minor defect to something more serious that may require corrective surgery. In some cases the person with the disease will go most of their life just having a slight curve. It may slightly effect them aesthetically but nothing more. Other times however, it can be severe, causing an extremely noticeable curve that can drastically affect locomotion and general posture. Not to mention, in severe cases it can be linked to other disorders such as abnormalities in the nervous system, Goldenhar's Syndrome and so on. Yours truly happens to suffer from it but me and my Doctor agree that I'm a bit out of the ordinary and I'll show you why.

Scoliois comes in two major forms: Idiopathic and Congenital. Idiopathic scoliosis arises spontaneously and with no clear cause. Congenital is caused by a clear genetic defect that results in a vertebral malformation, more specifically a patterning alteration. These malformations come in the form of hemivertebrae, wedged vertebrae and unsegmented bars.

A: Unsegmented Bar
B: Wedged vertebrae
C: Multiple hemivertabrae

(The key word there is patterning, and I'll get to that a bit later.) Furthermore, for it to be categorized as scoliois, the curve must be 10 degrees or more, or it is just categorized as a general spinal curvature which is pretty normal. As the curve gets more severe is when you see the crazy repercussions come in. Once it approaches something like 40-60 degrees and sometimes as absurd as 80 you will likely see the disease start to cause organ and muscle malformations.

Now here is where I come in, remember I mentioned patterning? Well, the hallmark of  CS is those vertebral malformations but they have to effect the patterning of the vertebrae. Meaning that if you stripped out every last one of that person's vertebrae you could tell exactly which one or which group caused the issue. Where as in IS patients all the bones look and appear regular except a curvature still happened. In my case, I happen to have a fully formed, completely normal, extra vertebrae. That would initially tell you I have CS since clearly, something isn't right. Except for the fact that the patterning isn't any different. You can only really infer that the extra one is causing it, but it is still a malformation. Not to mention, while the extra bone was there the whole time, the actual curvature didn't develop until I was about 7, which is an indicator of IS not CS. Also, in CS the curve occurs at the sight of the malformation where as mine doesn't. Another anomaly is that in most cases of CS, the curve will get noticeably worse in a relatively small period of time and become a major problem in about a decade. Yet, in my case, it barely changed over a similar time period. So giving it a brief look you'd instantly say I had CS yet when diving in deeper it isn't as black and white. Now, this is obviously a semantic as I still have the issue and still needed surgery but I still think it is a bit cool that my Doctor can't technically diagnose me with either of the conditions and to this day we still find my condition very perplexing.

*Note that really only the first third of this long article was used as that is what outlines what the disease is and some facts about it. However, a lot of the info I simply knew from talking to my Doctor about it.

Posted by Leon Mamish (2)


  1. Thanks for providing your story! I first heard of scoliosis in early elementary school due to the yearly screenings for it, however, I didn't know much aside from the fact the spine is curved. Your article is very informative and I learned a lot about scoliosis. Your condition sounds very unique and confusing. I wonder if there are more cases like yours, in which the scoliosis is hard to differentiate from CS and IS. Since CS is a genetic defect, is there a way to test for CS and to see if there are defects in the genes?

    Posted by Angelina Weng (3)

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  3. I think its cool that you were able to combine the science behind scoliosis with your own story, it made for an interesting blog. Do people who have scoliosis know that something is off or do they always know by going to their doctor for regular check ups? Do people with unique forms of scoliosis experience pain from it or would they never know?

    Zoe Israel

  4. You created an interesting post by sharing your own story that involves this issue! Thank you for sharing. I had a similar experience but was told that it would be corrected by itself with time, as it was less than 10 degrees. I periodically check it with my doctor just to make sure that things are going on track!

  5. I thought this blog was very helpful in understanding scoliosis. It sounds like a very frustrating disease that makes me think of my dads lower back pain. The images were a good idea too but would have been nice to see them next to a normal vertebrae.

  6. I feel like scoliosis is one of those things we all know of (due to the yearly screenings in school) but don't know many details about unless we have it. Until now, I, personally, always just thought of scoliosis as a curved spine, but your post has taught me that there are several underlying factors that can result in the same outcome- a curved vertebral column. And your case is especially intriguing. If you don't mind my asking, did you have to have surgery to correct your spinal pattern? I recall a friend of mine from high school who had to wear a very uncomfortable plastic brace to correct her mild case of scoliosis, but I wonder what the procedure is for more severe cases. In either of the 3 situations detailed in the picture you posted, is the standard surgical procedure to simply remove the problematic vertebrae and replace them with some sort of manmade stand-in? In the case of a wedged vertebrae, do they shave down one side to make it more evenly shaped?

    Posted by Nicole Ayres (1)

  7. I remember you discussing this last year in our Evo-Devo class if I'm not mistaken. Very cool that you're turning a disability into passion for a completely doable goal. Do you have plans to pursue this any further?

    -Colby Ells