Docs Tag: spine


Scoliosis is abnormal curving of the spine. Cases can range from mild, which may not affect daily living, to severe, which can be painful and limit daily activity. It affects about 3% of people, which is a lot on a large scale!


There are many causes of scoliosis, including congenital spine deformities (those present at birth, either inherited or caused by the environment), genetic conditions, neuromuscular problems, and limb length inequality. Other causes for scoliosis include cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, spinal muscular atrophy, and tumours. More than 80% of scoliosis cases, however, have no known cause.


Symptoms for scoliosis will vary. Some symptoms may include the following:

  • Shoulders at different heights
  • Head not centred directly above the pelvis
  • Appearance of a raised, prominent hip
  • Rib cages at different heights
  • Uneven waist
  • Changes in look or texture of skin overlying the spine
  • Leaning of entire body to one side
  • Rib prominence when bent over (also known as a “Rib hump”)


A doctor may diagnose scoliosis with an exam such as an x-ray, spinal radiograph, CT scan, or MRI of the spine. The curvature of the spine is measured and described in terms of degrees. Generally, a curve is considered significant if it is greater than 25 to 30 degrees. Curves exceeding 45 to 50 degrees are considered more severe.


Doctors take into account age, severity of scoliosis, and other factors such as physical condition. If the curve needs correcting, bracing may be used. Bracing keeps the curve in your spine from getting worse as your grow. If it’s more severe, surgery may be required, although many scoliosis curves never progress to this point!

This animated video does a great job of explaining scoliosis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQTyP9WQj_I

Information sourced from: https://www.medtronic.com/ca-en/your-health/conditions/scoliosis.html

Spina Bifida

Spina Bifida

Spina Bifida literally means “split spine.” Spina Bifida happens when a baby is in the womb and the spinal column does not close all of the way. This happens within the first four weeks of pregnancy. About 120 children are born with spina bifida every year in Canada.

Children born with spina bifida can have impairments of the spinal cord only or also the brain ( depending on the type of spina bifida). With research and advances in medical technology, 90% of the babies survive and become adults!

The three most common types of spina bifida are:

  • Myelomeningocele (my’-low-meh-nin’-go-seal): This is the form in which the spinal cord and its protective covering, the meninges, protrude from the opening in the spine.
  • Meningocele (meh-nin’-go-seal): The spinal cord develops normally, but only the meninges protrudes from the opening created by damaged or missing vertebrae and may be exposed.
  • Occulta (oh-kul’-tah): Occulta, which means “hidden”, indicates that the defect, where one or more vertebrae are malformed, is covered by a layer of skin.