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Is Scoliosis a Back or Spinal Cord Injury? Understanding Traumatic Scoliosis

scoliosis is considered a back injury

Learn if and/or when scoliosis is considered a back injury and if/when you can receive compensation for it

The short answer to this question is: Yes, scoliosis can be caused by trauma from an accident or other similar type of incident. But whether scoliosis is determined to be a result of trauma or something else depends on the age of the person and other factors that we’ll discuss further in this article.

Scoliosis is diagnosed as any abnormal sideways curvature of the spine measuring at least 10 degrees on an X-ray. If you suffer from scoliosis then you’re likely aware of your posture and, sometimes, discomfort and pain associated with the diagnosis.

scoliosis is considered a back injuryWhile scoliosis is not a disease, it can be caused by a disease in rare cases. More often than not, though, scoliosis develops from an unknown cause during adolescence or from spinal degeneration during adulthood. If this condition has no known cause, it is called idiopathic scoliosis.
[Source: Spine-Health]

Did you know? Some people mistakenly think that carrying heavy backpacks or sleeping on the side could cause scoliosis, but that is not the case.

While the cause is unknown, idiopathic scoliosis does tend to run in families. The specific genes involved have not all been identified yet, and there could be factors beyond genetics as well.


There are two general categories for scoliosis: Structural vs. Nonstructural Scoliosis.

  • Structural scoliosis involves spinal rotation in addition to the side-to-side curvature of the spine. This type of scoliosis affects the spine’s structure and is considered permanent unless the spine receives treatment. Structural scoliosis is typically considered more serious because it does not straighten out on its own and can potentially result in more spinal deformity.
  • Nonstructural scoliosis, also known as functional scoliosis, results from a temporary cause and only involves a side-to-side curvature of the spine (no spinal rotation). The spine’s structure is still normal. If a person with nonstructural scoliosis were to bend forward or lay down, the scoliosis curve would likely go away while held in that position.

While non-structural scoliosis is relatively uncommon, here are some ways it can occur:

  • Muscle spasms. If a major muscle in the back starts to spasm, the spine could be pulled in one direction and a sideways curve may result.
  • The difference in leg heights. When one leg is significantly longer than the other, a scoliosis curve may be present while standing.

Inflammation. If an area of the body to one side of the spine or the other starts to become inflamed, a scoliosis curve can result. Some possible causes could be appendicitis or pneumonia.

When Is Scoliosis Considered a Back or Spinal Injury?

Most cases of idiopathic scoliosis are diagnosed during the adolescent growth spurt, which is when scoliosis curves are at the greatest risk of progressing rapidly.

However, let’s consider the last cause that was mentioned above (inflammation). Scoliosis might be the result of a back or spinal injury if an area of the body or spine becomes inflamed due to trauma. This is referred to as traumatic scoliosis.

Traumatic scoliosis is a spinal curvature that is the result of a sudden and intense jolt to the spinal column.

Car accidents can be one of the leading causes of traumatic scoliosis cases. If left untreated, adults suffering from scoliosis may suffer from long-term pain in the lower back as well as problems while walking or moving.

Paralytic Curve: Following a traumatic spinal injury, a paralytic curve can develop when the muscles supporting the spine do not work properly.

Living with a traumatic spinal injury such as scoliosis can be difficult. While chiropractic treatments are not a cure, adjustments, and therapies can reduce pain, prevent degeneration, and increase the quality of life.

When to Seek Treatment

While approximately 90 percent of people identified with idiopathic scoliosis have curves that never progress enough to require bracing or surgery, treatment options exist for all types of scoliosis, including traumatic scoliosis.

  • Observation. Typically, a doctor will advise observation for a scoliosis curve that has not yet reached 25 degrees. Every 4 to 6 months, the doctor will take another X-ray of the spine to see if the scoliosis is progressing or not.
  • Bracing. If scoliosis has progressed past 20 or 25 degrees, a back brace could be prescribed to be worn until the adolescent has reached full skeletal maturity. The goal of bracing is to prevent the curve from getting worse and to avoid surgery.

Surgery. If the curve continues to progress despite bracing, surgery could be considered. The most common surgical option for scoliosis today is a posterior spinal fusion, which can offer better corrections with fewer fusion levels (preserving more back mobility) than what was done in years past.

Chiropractic Care After an Auto Accident

Following a car accident spinal injury, it’s important to know the symptoms of scoliosis and other spinal injuries. One of the most common symptoms of scoliosis after an accident is a pain in the lower back.

  • You may notice that you are struggling to stand up or you might be experiencing a dull pain while walking or running.
  • You may also notice that clothing has now become ill-fitting, such as pants that have one leg longer than the other.
  • Additionally, you may feel more fatigued than normal.
  • In severe cases of scoliosis, you might even feel pressure on your chest cavity.

Even if your scoliosis has been caused by a traumatic event such as a car accident, there is hope. Fortunately, treatment for your condition does not need to end in a time-consuming or painful surgery.

There are professional chiropractic services that can alleviate pain to return you to work, school, or daily life sooner rather than later. But you must act fast. Injuries to the back and spinal cord are serious and can cause paralysis and even death.

In Conclusion

If scoliosis is a result of a traumatic experience, it could be considered a spinal cord or back injury. It’s important that the injured person protect his or her rights and receive all the compensation he or she is entitled to.

Don’t just hire any law firm. You need the experience, the resources, and the reputation of one of the Inland Empire’s premier personal injury law firms, William D. Shapiro Law, Inc.

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