If you think back to junior high or middle school, you probably remember getting checked for scoliosis. We tend to think of this medical condition as something that afflicts the young. Generally, this is true; most people develop scoliosis between the ages of 10 to 15.
Yet scoliosis can be diagnosed at any time in life. It can also arise from a number of causes, including a traumatic injury. Our spines are complicated, and if even one part is thrown out of sync, it may affect the functioning (and curvature) of the entire spine.
If you have been in a car accident and diagnosed with scoliosis as a result, you may be feeling angry and stressed. A Washington, D.C. car accident attorney can advocate for you, fighting for your rights so that you can focus on what is most important: getting better.
What Is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a medical condition characterized by a sideways curvature of the spine. In most cases, it occurs during the growth spurt just before puberty. Although most cases are mild, severe scoliosis can be disabling, making it difficult for the lungs to properly function.
Signs of scoliosis may include:
- Uneven shoulders
- One hip higher than the other
- Uneven waist
- One shoulder blade appears more prominent than the other
With most cases of scoliosis, doctors do not know the cause. However, some less common types of scoliosis may be caused by certain neuromuscular conditions (such as muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy), birth defects, or injuries to or infections of the spine.
Left untreated, scoliosis can cause damage to the heart and lungs, making it more difficult for an individual to breathe and for the heart to pump. Adults with scoliosis tend to suffer from chronic back pain. Finally, scoliosis can significantly impact a person’s appearance as the curvature of the spine causes shifts in the hips, shoulders, ribs, waist, and trunk.
Scoliosis is diagnosed through a medical examination, a neurological examination, and X-rays to confirm the curvature of the spine. Treatment will depend on the sex and age of the patient, severity of the curve, location of the curve, and curve pattern. A brace may be recommended for moderate scoliosis or a younger child, while spinal fusion surgery is recommended for more severe cases.
Can Scoliosis Be Caused By a Car Crash?
The vast majority of cases of scoliosis are idiopathic — which means that they have no known cause. However, physical trauma, such as the type of injury that may be suffered in a motor vehicle collision, can cause scoliosis. This is typically referred to as traumatic scoliosis.
The spine is composed of a column of small bones (vertebrae) that protect the spinal cord. Small disks made of cartilage cushion the vertebrae. Any type of change or abnormality of the vertebrae or these disks can impact the curvature of the spine, potentially leading to scoliosis.
Physical trauma can damage the vertebrae of the spine and impact curvature. This is particularly true if the injury to the spine is not diagnosed and treated appropriately. While scoliosis is usually diagnosed in children between the ages of 10 and 15, traumatic scoliosis can affect you at any stage of life.
While signs of traumatic scoliosis may be mild at first, over time, as the curvature of the spine worsens, your symptoms may become more severe. This may include chronic back pain, back fatigue after standing or sitting, and other complications, such as difficulty breathing.
The Importance of Seeking Medical Attention After an Auto Accident
After being involved in a car accident, you may be tempted to exchange information and go home, particularly if the crash seemed relatively minor. Doing so could be a mistake. After any type of collision, it is vital to seek medical treatment for even minor injuries.
At the hospital or your doctor’s office, you can be checked for any type of damage to your spine. A simple X-ray can identify structural changes, such as the hallmark curvature of the spine present in scoliosis. Your physician can also rule out other causes of pain at this time.
If left untreated, injuries to the disks or vertebrae in your spine can cause a number of conditions, including traumatic scoliosis. An early diagnosis can allow you to begin treatment promptly, avoiding the potential for greater damage. Initial treatments may include wearing a brace, doing exercise and physical therapy, and taking anti-inflammatory medicines. If the injury progresses or the damage is severe, then you may need surgery to correct the problem.
There is another advantage to seeking medical attention as soon as possible after a car crash. Insurance companies may try to claim that your injuries are related to a pre-existing condition, or that you made your condition worse by not seeking treatment immediately. By going to the doctor, you will shut down these arguments and strengthen your claim.
Getting Help for Accident-Related Scoliosis
Any type of back injury can have long-term effects, as the spine is a notoriously complex area of the body. It is vital to seek medical assistance as soon as possible after an accident to hopefully avoid the development of a condition such as traumatic scoliosis. If you have been diagnosed with scoliosis related to an injury, a Washington, D.C. car accident attorney can help.
Patrick Malone & Associates is dedicated to helping people throughout the D.C. metro area who have been hurt in all types of car accidents. We strongly believe in using the civil legal system to obtain justice for people who have been hurt. To schedule a free initial consultation, call us today at 202-742-1500 or contact us online.