What is deformity
Deformity of spine is any abnormality of the formation, alignment, or shape
of the vertebral column.
Other names for deformity of spine include:
- curvy spine
- spinal deformities
- misshaped spine
The spine is made up of over 25 small bones called vertebrae that support
the upper body. The cervical spine (C-spine) is the upper portion, comprised of
seven vertebrae. It supports the neck and head. The thoracic spine (T-spine) is
comprised of 12 vertebrae, which connect to the rib cage and support the torso.
The lumbar spine (L-spine) has five large vertebrae that support most of the
body’s mass and weight. The sacrum is the base of the spine, and in most people,
is comprised of 2-4 partially fused bones terminating in the coccyx (commonly
known as the tailbone) within the pelvis.
The normal human spine has gentle curvatures, but when those curves are
exaggerated, extreme, or displaced they’re considered deformities. Some
deformities are subtle and not easily detected in a growing child. Signs of
spine deformities include:
- uneven shoulders
- uneven hips
- a protruding shoulder blade
- misalignment of the head over
the midline of the body
Fatigue may be reported with prolonged periods of sitting and standing.
Diagnoses that are associated with spine deformity include:
A physical examination by your doctor is necessary to determine a deformity
of the spine. Screening evaluations of children are routinely done in physician
offices and at schools. These evaluations commonly involve a diagnostic test
called the Adam’s forward bend test.
A scoliometer can be used to measure the degree of curvature in the spine. However,
the results are not completely accurate. X-rays are done when spinal
deformities are suspected. An MRI may be done if further investigation is
Treatment depends on the diagnosis and the severity of the deformity. Any
underlying illness or injury resulting in the deformity requires prompt
Treatment for curvatures may include bracing or surgery. Braces are worn
under clothes to support the spine in correct anatomical position. If you need
braces, your doctor will refer you to a specialist called an orthotist. They
will measure and fit the brace, and provide support and feedback to you and
your clinical team.
Spine stabilization surgery is recommended in cases where there is severe
pain, neurological problems, or curvature greater than 50 degrees. The goal of
surgery is to straighten and hold the spine straight. Several surgical
techniques can be used, including spinal fusion (fusing the vertebrae together)
and the use of implants to secure the fusion.
Non-surgical management can be beneficial to people with some types of
spinal deformities. This includes exercise, building muscle strength and tone,
and weight maintenance. Physical
therapy may be part of the treatment plan for deformities of the spine. Biofeedback
has also been used to improve posture.