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Scoliosis Terms

Visiting the Dr is a daunting task at the best of times, and hearing a diagnosis with terms you have never heard can be even more confusing for the patient, we have decided to list a few of the Scoliosis terms or descriptions that you may hear when visiting your Dr to help you understand your diagnosis a lot better.

The following list should help you become more comfortable in making your decisions for your Scoliosis care/treatment.

  • AIS: Idiopathic Adolescent Scoliosis
  • ANNULUS FIBROSUS: The outer, fibrous, ring–like portion of an intervertebral disc
  • APEX OF THE CURVE: This is known as the center of the curve and may be the greatest distance from the center line of the spinal gravitational line. The gravitational line extends from the center of the skull to the center of the pelvis. For example, a curve starts at T1 and moves to T5, the center would be T2, which is the apex of the curve
  • APICAL VERTEBRA: The most rotated vertebra in a curve; the most deviated vertebra from the patient's vertical axis
  • ARTHRODESIS: The fusion of bones across a joint space, thereby limiting or eliminating movement. It may occur spontaneously or as a result of a surgical procedure, such as fusion of the spine
  • BOSTON: A type of Scoliosis brace
  • Centrum: The body of a vertebra
  • CERVICAL: The neck region of the spine that is located between the head and the chest. Vertebral bodies known as C1-C7
  • CHARLESTON: A type of Scoliosis brace
  • CHEMONUCLEOYSIS: A treatment of an intervertebral disc that consists of an injection of chymopapain, a drug that dissolves part of the disc
  • COBB ANGLE: A method of measurement used for evaluation of curves in Scoliosis on an AP radiographic projection of the spine
  • COCCYX: The region of the spine below the sacrum. It is also known as the tailbone
  • COMPENSATORY CURVE: A curve, which can be structural, above or below a major curve that tends to maintain normal body alignment
  • COMPRESSION: The act of pressing together – refers to the loss of vertebral body height either anteriorly, posteriorly or both
  • CURVE PROGRESSION: How a curve changes over time
  • DEGENERATIVE SCOLIOSIS: Refers to two types of individuals. The adult who has pre-existing scoliosis will show signs of wear and tear or osteoarthritis (can happen to anyone as we age) - but because of the deformity, their spine starts to collapse and their curve can progress. The other type of person has no scoliosis to start with, but as he or she ages, the spine starts to show signs of wear and tear and it collapses asymmetrically. These individuals actually develop scoliosis later in life, even though they didn't have a pre-existing condition
  • DISC (INTERVERTEBRAL): The tough, elastic structure that is between the bodies of spinal vertebrae. The disc consists of an outer annulus fibrosus enclosing an inner nucleus pulposus
  • DISC DEGENERATION: The loss of the structural and functional integrity of the disc
  • DISECTOMY: Surgical removal of part or all of an intervertebral disc
  • DISTRACTION: Excessive space between fracture fragments or vertebral segments due to interposed tissue or, most often, axial forces
  • DOUBLE MAJOR: Double Major curve is defined as two lateral curvatures (Scoliosis) in the same spine
  • END VERTEBRA: The most cephalad (i.e. toward the head) vertebra of a curve, whose superior surface tilts maximally toward the concavity of the curve. ii. The most caudad (i.e. toward the coccyx) vertebra whose inferior surface tilts maximally toward the concavity of the curve
  • FACET: A posterior structure of a vertebra which articulates with a facet of an adjacent vertebra to form a facet joint that allows motion in the spinal column. Each vertebra has two superior and two inferior facets
  • FACETECTOMY: Excision of a facet
  • FEMUR: This is what we think of as the thigh bone. It is the longest and thickest bone of the human skeleton; extends from the pelvis to the knee
  • GROWTH PLATE: In the involved area of the spine there is absent or abnormal growth potential due to an area of missing bone (formation defect) or missing growth plates (segmentation defect). This results in an area of absent growth potential in the vertebral ring, and the growth in the remainder of the vertebral ring disrupts the normal alignment of the spine, producing different types of deformities
  • GROWTH SPURT: An increase in rate of growth (velocity) during adolescence, usually occurring at age 10-12 in the female and 12-14 in the male
  • HARRINGTON ROD: An inserted device using the principles of distraction or compression to stabilise the spine posteriorly in thoracic or lumbar spine fractures or to correct scoliosis. No longer in circulation in MOST countries.
  • HERNIATED DISC: Extrusion of part of the nucleus pulposus material through a defect in the annulus fibrosus
  • HOOK: For spinal applications, a metallic medical device used to connect spinal structures to a rod
  • IDIOPATHIC: Unknown - your Scoliosis has an unknown cause
  • ILIAC CREST: Top edge of the hipbone (Ilium)
  • ILIUM: The large, wing-like bones of the pelvis, connected by the sacrum. This is what we think of as the hip bones
  • ILIUM: Scoliosis that occurs in infants, and is noticeable when the child is aged between 2 months and 3 years
  • JUVENILE IDIOPATHIC SCOLIOSIS: Juvenile scoliosis occurs in the 3 to 10 year old age group. Juvenile scoliosis often requires treatment because the deformity (curve) is at a high risk of progression. About 70% of patients with juvenile scoliosis will require treatment. Half of these patients will require a brace, the other half will require surgery
  • KYPHOSIS: An abnormal increase in the normal kyphotic curvature of the thoracic spine
  • LAMINA: An anatomical portion of a vertebra. For each vertebra, two lamina connect the pedicles to the spinous process as part of the neural arch
  • LAMINECTOMY: An operation for removal of part or all of the lamina of a vertebra, commonly performed in order to be able to remove an intervertebral disc protrusion or to decompress a nerve root
  • LATERAL SIDE VIEW: Side view, looking at the side of the body
  • LORDOSIS: An abnormal increase in the normal lordotic curvature of the lumbar spine
  • LUMBAGO: A non–medical term signifying pain in the lumbar region
  • LUMBAR: The lower part of the spine between the thoracic region and the sacrum. Includes vertebral bodies L1-L5. These vertebral bodies are the largest in width and height of all the spinal vertebra
  • MENARCHE: The first menstrual period
  • MILWAUKEE: A type of Scoliosis brace
  • NUCLEUS PULPOSUS: The semi–gelatinous tissue in the center of an intervertebral disc. It is surrounded and contained by the annulus fibrosus which prevents this material from protruding outside the disc space
  • ORTHOPAEDICS: The medical specialty involved in the preservation and restoration of function of the musculoskeletal system that includes treatment of spinal disorders and peripheral nerve lesions
  • ORTHOSIS: A device to assist the spine or limbs. Examples include a back brace, an artificial leg, arch support insoles, etc
  • OSTEOPHYTES: Are bone spurs that may arise from bone margins either in response to repetitive traction or osteoarthrosis affecting a joint margin. They may secondarily cause pain by impingement upon or distortion of adjacent structures, innervated tissues or nerves
  • PEDICLE SCREW: Are implants used in the thoracic and lumbar spine to help surgeons stabilise the spine
  • PROVIDENCE: A manifestation of divine care or direction
  • RIB HUMP: The prominence of the ribs on the convexity of a spinal curvature, usually due to vertebral rotation best exhibited on forward bending
  • ROD: In spinal applications, a slender, metal implant which is used to immobilize and align the spine
  • ROTATION: The movement of one vertebra to another about its normal or abnormal coronal axis
  • SACRUM: Curved triangular bone at the base of the spine, the rest of the spine sits upon this area. Consisting of five fused vertebrae known as sacral vertebrae. The sacrum moves with the last lumbar vertebra and laterally with the pelvic bones.
  • SCOLIOSIS: Lateral (sideways) curvature of the spine
  • SPINAL STENOSIS: Reduction in the diameter of the spinal canal due to new bone formation which may result in pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots
  • SPINAL DISC: See Disc (Intervertebral)
  • SPINAL COLUMN: See Spine
  • SPINAL FUSION: A surgical procedure to permanently join bone by interconnecting two or more vertebrae in order to prevent motion (see Arthrodesis)
  • SPINAL CANAL: The bony channel that is formed by the intravertebral foramen of the vertebrae and in which contains the spinal cord and nerve roots
  • SPINAL CORD: The longitudinal cord of nerve tissue that is enclosed in the spinal canal. It serves not only as a pathway for nervous impulses to and from the brain, but as a center for carrying out and coordinating many reflex actions independently of the brain
  • SPINAL VERTEBRAL ROTATION: This is the rotation of vertebral bodies clockwise and counter clockwise upon the long axis of the spine
  • SPINE: The flexible bone column extending from the base of the skull to the tailbone. It is made up of 33 bones, known as vertebrae. The first 24 vertebrae are separated by discs known as intervertebral discs, and bound together by ligaments and muscles. Five vertebrae are fused together to form the sacrum and 4 vertebrae are fused together to form the coccyx. The spine is also referred to as the vertebral column, spinal column, or backbone
  • SPONDYLITIS: Inflammation of vertebrae
  • SPONDYLOLISTHESIS: A defect in the construct of bone between the superior and inferior facets with varying degrees of displacement so the vertebra with the defect and the spine above that vertebra are displaced forward in relationship to the vertebrae below. It is usually due to a developmental defect or the result of a fracture
  • SPONDYLOLYSIS: Displacement of one vertebra over another with fracture of a posterior portion of the vertebra. A defect in the neural arch between the superior and inferior facets of vertebrae without separation at the defect and therefore no displacement of the vertebrae. It may be unilateral or bilateral and is usually due to a developmental defect but may be secondary to a fracture
  • THORACIC: This is the chest level region of the spine that is located between the cervical and the lumbar vertebra. Includes vertebral bodies T1-T12. The ribs are attached to these vertebrae
  • THORACOLUMBAR: If a curve is defined as thoracolumbar it is any curvature starting in the thoracic spine and moving through the lumbar spine, such as a T8 through L3, a large “C” curve
  • RISSER SIGN: Skeletal maturity can be assessed by the Risser sign
  • SCOLIOSIS: An abnormal lateral curvature of the spine
  • SPINECOR: Breakthrough treatment for idiopathic scoliosis utilising a dynamic corrective brace (DCB), clinical assistant diagnostic software (SAS) and postural measurement equipment
  • THORACIC: The chest level region of the spine that is located between the cervical and lumbar vertebrae. It consists of 12 vertebrae which serve as attachment points for ribs
  • TLSO: Thoracolumbosacral orthotic. An underarm custom-molded rigid body-jacket type brace. The most common brace used in scoliosis
  • TRANSLATION: Vertebral body displacement – can describe lateral, anterior or posterior displacement