Scoliosis means ‘twisted or ‘crooked’ in Greek and is used to describe any sideways curve of the spine that is more than 10°. It is estimated that up to 15% of school children have a slight curve (<10°) in their spine, however up to 20% of these curves spontaneously resolve or improve!
What causes it?
In the case of slight curvatures, the reason for the curve is thought to be related to handedness or be physiologic to accommodate for the size and position of the heart, lung and aorta.
How can it impact me?
A slight curve in your spine may seem insignificant but it can have an effect on your shoulder, neck and/or head.
The righting reflex is a reflex initiated by the balance system in our brain. Its job is to correct your head position so that your eyes remain horizontal. The brain uses a combination of systems to balance itself, including:
• Visual (eyes)
• Vestibular (inner ear)
• Somatosensory (joint position)
Once it has received information from all three systems the brain then decides how it will correct the displacement, often by activating the muscles on the opposite side of the neck.
Although this response is necessary, this attempt to ‘right’ itself may often causes other problems such as:
• Neck, shoulder and/or back pain
How can I tell whether I’ve got scoliosis?
A quick way to check if someone you know has a curve is to stand behind them and ask them to bend forward and touch their toes. If their back is uneven or “humped” on one side this is an indication they may have a curvature.