Thursday, July 28, 2016

Scoliosis in Sports

Scoliosis is a spine deformity in the side-to-side (or lateral) plane of more than 10 degrees of angulation.  The majority of the time this occurs spontaneously during the pubertal growth spurt in an individual with normal spine development, up until that time.  Currently this type of scoliosis is called “idiopathic”, meaning there is no known cause.  However genetic researchers are finding more and more associations between patients’ genetics and the development of scoliosis.  There is nothing the patient or caregiver did, or didn’t do, to cause the scoliosis to occur.  Most individuals with idiopathic scoliosis are involved, to some degree, in athletic endeavors whether it be recreational or high-level competition, at the time they are diagnosed with scoliosis.  Often sports are interwoven into their day-to-day activities, so a new diagnosis of scoliosis raises questions about what sporting activities, and level of participation, a person with scoliosis may participate.  Despite the lateral curvature of the spine, the bony stability of the spine is normal, without instability or weakness.  There is no increased risk of damage to the spine during athletic participation when compared to a similar individual whose spine does not have scoliosis, or is absolutely straight.  We encourage all patients with scoliosis to be as athletically active as they desire, as the benefits of an active lifestyle are well-known.  The best way to prevent back pain in scoliosis is to remain athletically active, specifically to be aerobically fit.  For those individuals who do not participate in an organized athletic activity we encourage every other day workouts.  These should be 20-30 minutes, at a minimum, in which the patient raises their heartrate and breaks into a sweat.  More elaborate methods to quantify heartrate are commercially available, but are not necessary.

Even patients whose scoliosis requires brace use we encourage sports participation.  The brace can be removed and they can participate in their sport at full capacity.  After completion of the sporting activity the brace can be re-applied.  It is not desirable to have the patients who are wearing a brace to stop their athletic activities.  There are many negative implications of being sedentary. 

So go out there and Play Ball!

Next Blogpost: What is Spondylolysis or a Pars Fracture?