My Body Is Getting Tilted After Trauma
One of the common complaints especially from young patients is that his or her body becomes curved out of shape after minor trauma at school or office.
They put real emphasis on their ``distortion'' by describing that ``one buttock or shoulder is higher than the other'' and submit the ``evidence'' from x-rays taken at local clinics. Surely these youngsters would be more sensitive to what their exterior looks like, rather than having an idea of what is going on in their ``interior.''
The medical terminology 'scoliosis' describes the phenomenon when the human spine is curved and deviates from the real center axis of the body. Scoliosis' could be divided into two types ― one is ``functional'' and the other is the real ``structural.'' As for the latter, or idiopathic type, the definite causative factor is a mystery in many cases and therefore an early diagnosis is crucial to deter aggravating the degree of deformity or cardiopulmonary functional deterioration.
However, the former functional type could be caused by minor trauma to a lateral back muscle or from a long history of bad posture during class or carrying heavy school bags on only one shoulder. This could also be a secondary phenomenon for the patients with herniated disc disease in the lumbar vertebrae following natural, protective mechanism of the human body to curve and move away from pain sources on the other side. This comprises almost up to 90% of young patients visiting the hospital with complaints about abnormal body shape.
The general management for the functional disease is to correct the posture with or without the aid of a brace since most of these functional patients barely exceeds more than a 20 degree of deformation. Usually the curvature returns to its normal shape when the actual pain source or the symptoms subsides with treatment.
The same treatment principle can be applied to patients with a degree of curvature between 20 to 40 degrees, who have the capacity of two more years growth. So, in order to ``straighten up'' your spine, make an accurate judgment on what makes your body curve from the inside, before being frightened about a deformed exterior look.
The author is a neurosurgeon at Chungdam Wooridul Hospital.