March is Women’s History Month! So in honor of women everywhere this month I will dedicate each post to exploring women’s health issues. I’ll also have a Women in History Trivia question at the end of each blog this month and the answer will be given in the next week’s blog.
I do love being a girl but there are some things women have to be concerned with that our male counterparts don’t. Today I’d like to talk about a birth defect that effects primarily girls called Scoliosis. I happen to have been diagnosed with Scoliosis when I was a young child and my doctors watched my curve during my growth spurt to make sure that it didn’t progress as I grew. Fortunately, I had a mild case and never had to wear a back brace or worry too much more about it once I stopped growing at age 18. Because my shoulders are not even sometimes straps don’t stay put. My pelvis is slightly tilted and so childbirth could be more challenging. But like the psalmist I do believe that I was fearfully and wonderfully made.
What exactly is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine. So in addition to the thoracic and lumbar curves that everyone has Scoliosis causes the spine to also curve to one side making a C curve and in some cases both sides making an S curve. The cause is not really known. Scoliosis can be present at birth but is not usually observed until puberty.
Corrective Measures and Treatment?
I was prescribed exercises that worked to strengthen my back and was encouraged to always sit up straight. Exercise didn’t correct the curve but being athletic helped with alleviating pain. In more serious cases a back brace is worn to keep the spine in alignment. In severe cases surgery may be done to correct as much of the curve as possible to make breathing easier.
Scoliosis and Childbirth
Because the curve changes the available space in the chest cavity and during pregnancy the baby pushes all the organs around, there are some things women with severe Scoliosis should consider before becoming pregnant. An epidural may not work, a vaginal birth may not be possible, and you may need a ventilator to assist with breathing during delivery. Those with mild Scoliosis may experience more back pain toward the end of their pregnancy and may need to discuss methods of pain relief before labor but should not have any problems with a vaginal birth. There was a time when all mother’s with Scoliosis were scheduled for C-Sections but doctors no longer rule out vaginal births for women with Scoliosis.
Little Things You Can Do Today
- Enroll in Yoga or Pilates: Yoga and Pilates will strengthen the back and help with proper alignment of the spine in relation to the limbs.
- Get a Massage: Massage therapy is a very effective way to deal with back pain and it improves your overall well-being.
- Get Moving: Exercise of any kind has proven benefits for people with Scoliosis. It is especially good during adolescence when your still growing. Strong core muscles will alleviate stress and pressure on the spine. Maintaining a healthy weight will also lessen the stress on the spine.
Women in History Quiz
Name the founder of the American Association of the Red Cross.
Until Next Week,
Nicole D.P. McLaughlin, PT
- Effective Treatment Options for Scoliosis to Help Mobility (orthopedics.answers.com)
- Back, Spine and Neck: An Overview of Scoliosis (pediatrics.answers.com)