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People may wonder whether scoliosis is a disability considering approximately six to nine million U.S. citizens have the condition. Classifying any condition as a disability may entitle those living with it to social security disability benefits.
In this post, we answer common questions that people often ask about scoliosis, including “What is scoliosis,” “Is scoliosis a disability,” and “What benefits are available to a scoliosis patient?” Our answers may help you make an informed decision about your next steps.
What Is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a common spinal disorder affecting about 2% to 3% of the U.S. population. Patients with scoliosis have spines that abnormally curve to the side. This disorder can occur at any age but usually develops during adolescence. In adults, this condition may become degenerative scoliosis.
Adult scoliosis usually comes with other conditions, particularly spinal stenosis. This condition is when the spinal canal becomes narrow and functions less effectively. Since scoliosis can be hereditary, adults diagnosed with non-degenerative scoliosis may have had a history of the condition.
Spinal curvature twists the vertebrae or the bones that compromise the spinal column, which contains the spinal cord. In a severe case, the scoliosis patient’s rib cage and head may become compromised, leading to chronic pain unless they obtain the proper treatment.
What Are the Different Types of Scoliosis?
Scoliosis comes in two main types: adolescent idiopathic scoliosis and early-onset scoliosis.
Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS)
Approximately 80% of scoliosis cases are AIS. Based on its name, adolescent idiopathic scoliosis usually manifests between ages 10 and 12 without any known cause. In addition, there is no known prevention, as medical evidence suggests it is genetic. Women are about 7 to 10 times more likely to develop AIS than men.
Early Onset Scoliosis (EOS)
Though it is rare, EOS occurs in children under three years old. It tends to be difficult to treat and may come in one of two subtypes:
Congenital Scoliosis: This type of EOS develops during birth. Sometimes, babies develop this spinal deformity in the womb, perhaps due to insufficient nutrients.
Neuromuscular Scoliosis: Nerve and muscle weakness around the spine may lead to this kind of EOS. Neuromuscular scoliosis may also result from related disorders, particularly cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy.
What Causes Scoliosis?
Different types of scoliosis have different causes. AIS has no known cause, but medical experts agree that congenital abnormalities or neuromuscular disorders may cause EOS. In addition, many people associate scoliosis with bad posture, exercise, and dietary habits. However, these factors may only aggravate the condition rather than cause it.
Experts mention that people are more likely to develop this medical condition through their genes as severe scoliosis may run in their family. Consider looking into Scoliosis Association UK records for more information about known causes.
What Are the Symptoms of Scoliosis?
Most symptoms associated with scoliosis include:
Uneven Posture: Someone’s shoulder could be higher than the other, their hip may pop out while standing, or they could easily lean to one side.
Severe Pain: Scoliosis patients tend to feel acute or chronic pain in their back or shoulders. The pain they experience may come from inflammation or muscle spasms.
Fatigue: People with scoliosis tend to be more tired than usual due to the body making up for their uneven posture.
Trouble Walking: Scoliosis could misalign a person’s hips and affect their gait.
Limited Range of Motion: Twists and rotations in the spine could make it more rigid and less flexible.
How Is Scoliosis Diagnosed?
Experts may use one or a combination of different methods to diagnose scoliosis. Some methods are superficial, while others can look into the spinal cord and nerve roots. These methods include:
Medical professionals highlight the importance of early detection to monitor the condition’s progression. Doctors also assure parents of children or adolescents whose medical records display scoliosis symptoms not to panic, as 45% of patients never actually develop the condition.
Can Scoliosis Be Cured?
No, there is no cure for scoliosis. It is a degenerative condition, meaning it only gets worse over time. However, doctors continue to study scoliosis, hoping to develop a cure for the disorder. Meanwhile, medical treatment methods may help people control scoliosis progression.
Most people with scoliosis can go about daily and enjoy their favorite activities. However, it depends on their case, as some people’s conditions may prevent them from moving about.
How Is Scoliosis Treated?
Existing scoliosis treatments include:
Observation: Doctors may advise patients to wait and see how their condition progresses. It is best to avoid surgery for scoliosis when possible.
Bracing: Scoliosis braces feature designs that support proper spinal alignment, reduce spinal curvature’s progression, and ease pain.
Casting: Body casting involves covering the patient’s torso with a cast to realign their spine as it grows, making it a treatment method suited for younger scoliosis patients.
Physical Therapy: Regular physical therapy sessions may help scoliosis patients improve their flexibility, mobility, and strength.
Surgery: Doctors may recommend surgery in severe cases. Common procedures include spinal fusion surgery, vertebral body tethering, and MAGnetic Expansion Control.
What Benefits and Accommodations Are Available for People With Scoliosis?
Long-term pain usually accompanies scoliosis. Those eligible for long-term disability benefits can file a disability claim with the Social Security Administration (SSA).
The SSA will review their medical records and decide if they qualify for social security disability (SSD) benefits. Qualifying for social security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits requires patients to supply proper documentation. Documentation may include medical proof and daily living activity forms. The administration may also qualify a caretaker for a disability tax credit.
The benefits a person obtains will depend on the severity of their condition. For example, a patient may obtain more disability benefits than someone with an affected cervical spine if their scoliosis affects the entire spine.
How Can Benefits.com Help Me?
The Department of Health and Human Services recognizes scoliosis as a disability eligible for a disability benefit. When seeking assistance to claim disability benefits, collaborate with someone with experience navigating the processes involved in the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability application and appeals. For more information on this process, visit Benefits.com.