Here, we discuss scoliosis, or a sideways curvature of the spine, in spinal muscular atrophy. SMA is characterized by a progressive loss of muscle control, muscle movement, and increasing muscle weakness. Most people with SMA start showing the disease symptoms early in life (as early as birth), and the disease becomes more severe over time.
As spinal muscular atrophy is a muscle-related disease, the proximal muscles, which are the ones closer to the center of the body, are more severely affected than the most distant muscles, such as those in the hands and feet.
People with SMA may never acquire or may gradually lose the ability to walk, sit or move. In addition, normal growth and development can also place an additional stress on muscles that are already weakened.
People with SMA do not have intellectual difficulties as a result of the disease, and their intelligence is normal.1
Spinal Muscular Atrophy and Scoliosis
Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature — lateral, or toward the side — in the spine that occurs because of weakness of the muscles that normally support the spinal column. If severe, scoliosis may interfere with breathing and require surgical treatment.1 It is a major health concern in most people with SMA type 2, and some with SMA type 3.
Around 50% of children with SMA, especially those who need walking aids, develop scoliosis of more than 50 degrees, requiring them to have spinal surgery. Some people may use an orthoses (apparatus used to support, align, prevent, or correct deformities or to improve the function of movable parts of the body) before having surgery, but this does not prevent scoliosis. Orthoses allow people with scoliosis to achieve a more upright position,2 but does not correct the underlying problem.
Follow the latest developments for all experimental Spinal Muscular Atrophy treatments on the SMA Therapy Tracker.
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