Scoliosis: Richard III and me. You’re in good company
Human beings are complex structures, not capable of maintaining an upright posture until relatively recently in evolutionary history. When the foramen magnum, the hole in the base of the skull through which your spinal cord passes, moved from the back of the skull to the bottom of it, this was evidence that we were now standing up, or at least our ancestors were. Once upright we could run on two limbs, enabling us to traverse the grasslands of central Africa with a pace that meant things would never be the same again.
In man, the spine performs close to its physical limits
Our bodies changed in other ways too. The spine, a chain of vertebral bones linked by ligaments, yet flexible enough to allow us to rotate, bend, lift and throw things, developed its now well known S-shape. It’s an incredible structure, providing a balance of strength and mobility, but it’s also one of the human weak spots.
Back pain is endured by millions as a result of degenerative changes to the spine, changes brought about because as a structure the spine is asked to do so much and is so pivotal to every human activity.
For some people, and if you’re reading this it may be you or a loved one, it is the actual shape of the spine that can lead to problems. The term Scoliosis encompasses a variety of conditions known generically as spinal curvature. The extent, origin and form of these conditions is varied, but most have no obvious direct cause (so-called idiopathic scoliosis) and exist, even though they may have caused no problems, from birth.
“Scoliosis” describes a spectrum of conditions
Scoliosis, unlike the natural front to back orientation of the spine, is a sideways curvature, often involving a twisting of the spine. It can go almost unnoticed, or it can be very obvious, depending on its extent. When one considers the evolution of the spine it’s perhaps unsurprising that many of us have some form of scoliosis, often undetected. The spine’s been asked to do a lot of things, so its not surprising it sometimes goes a bit wrong.
And don’t worry. When you see Richard III’s skeleton, with its twisted spine, it’s not always like that. I should know, because I share the condition and it’s never limited me.
On our site we hope to provide information that will help sufferers of scoliosis deal with their condition in the best way possible, or at least understand things a little better.