6 Serious Causes Of Scoliosis During Pregnancy

Scoliosis During Pregnancy

Image: Shutterstock

Table Of Contents:

Planning for pregnancy is exciting. But women suffering from scoliosis may be worried about its effect on their child. Scoliosis is a deformity of the spine. It is characterized by lateral curvature of the vertebral column. There is a slight outward roundness in the upper back and a mild inward curve in the lower back. It usually resembles an S or C instead of a straight line (1).

Momjunction talks about scoliosis and pregnancy, if it has an effect on your baby, and more.

What Can Be The Causes Of Scoliosis During Pregnancy?

Here are some common causes of scoliosis in pregnancy.

Idiopathic or Unknown: About 80% of scoliosis cases do not have a definitive cause and are referred to as idiopathic. Also, the doctors cannot give the right explanation of its occurrence (2).

Neuromuscular: Neuromuscular illnesses like cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy are known to be the causes for about 20% cases of scoliosis.

Leg length: Women with varying lengths of legs are also known to be affected from scoliosis.

Congenital: It is a malformation of the spine that occurs between three to six weeks of pregnancy. It may happen if there is improper segmentation of the vertebrae.

Hereditary: Presence of the gene GPR126 affects the spinal development in the early stages of life. It will lead to lateral spine curvature in the later stages.

Miscellaneous causes: Wrong posture and lifting of heavy objects can also lead to scoliosis.

Symptoms Of Scoliosis:

Scoliosis reduces the lung capacity and exerts pressure on the heart, thereby affecting your physical activity. The associated symptoms include:

  • Prominent ribs
  • Improper spine curvature
  • Prominent shoulder blade that develops because of the rotation in the ribcage
  • Retarded nerve functioning
  • Uneven lengths of legs, arms or hips

Your doctor can help you with pain management techniques.

Will Scoliosis Worsen Health Condition During Pregnancy?

Pregnancy, usually, does not worsen the curvature of the spine. However, in severe cases, the curve worsens these symptoms.

Pregnancy triggers almost the same symptoms in women with or without scoliosis. The common health issues that pregnant women experience include:

Back pain: Most women suffer mild to moderate back pain, with a majority of them having lower back pain. Therefore, it is not easy to say whether the pain arouses from scoliosis or pregnancy. But, if scoliosis is a pre-existing condition, the risk of lower back pain increases while you are pregnant.

Breathing issues: Pregnant women gain weight with the advancement in pregnancy to support the growth and development of the baby. The growing uterus will, therefore, exert pressure on the diaphragm making it difficult for the mother to breathe.

Also, women experience breathlessness during pregnancy. This is because of the increase in progesterone hormone that raises the rate of respiration. These situations worsen in the presence of scoliosis (3).

Movement: Walking would be problematic if your legs are of uneven lengths. This will become more difficult with progressing pregnancy.

Treatment Of Scoliosis During Pregnancy:

It is hard to treat scoliosis during pregnancy. The orthopedist can only help you to get rid of the spinal pain and discomfort. He will help you select the right pain management program by considering the factors such as the degree of the condition, pregnancy complications and associated risks. The pain management treatments can include:

  • Pain killing medications
  • Exercises
  • Bracing
  • Surgery
  • Kinesiatrics – use of simulators
  • Special massage
  • Acupuncture

The primary objective of the above treatments is to relieve the spinal pain and discomfort. The healthcare provider will also suggest a maternity belt and rest.

Exercise makes you feel comfortable. It helps improve the strength in your back muscles and keep the spine in proper shape. Elastic resistance exercises are the most helpful, but they should be performed only with the help of a professional expert.

Which Form Of Birth Is Sensible With Scoliosis?

It is known that women with scoliosis can carry their baby to full term and deliver normally. In the earlier times, C-section was opted, but later on it was found that vaginal delivery is possible provided there are no other pregnancy complications (4).

Delivery is the same for women with or without scoliosis. However, there are a few differences:

  • Those with curved hips can experience ‘stalled labor’ (labor suddenly slows down or stops from the active phase) due to mal-position of the baby.
  • They may experience difficulty in pushing the baby.
  • It would be harder to receive an epidural.

Can Your Baby Inherit Scoliosis?

The actual cause of idiopathic scoliosis is unknown, but it is known to be hereditary. Studies reveal that about 30% of scoliosis patients have a family history of the condition (5). However, it does not mean that your baby will surely inherit the problem. About one-third of children whose parents have the condition will develop it. (6) This risk is higher in girls than in boys.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Can you become pregnant with scoliosis?

Research studies have found that scoliosis will not cause any pregnancy, delivery, fetal or neonatal problems. It will not even cause infertility problems or increase the chance of stillbirth, birth defects or miscarriage. Also, the women who underwent spinal fusion surgery can become pregnant.

The University of Maryland Medical Center reveals that women who were treated for scoliosis show minor or no risks during pregnancy and delivery.

2. How does congenital scoliosis affect pregnancy?

Women with congenital scoliosis or early onset of scoliosis should check with their healthcare provider before planning to become pregnant. Congenital scoliosis is associated with neuromuscular conditions like poliomyelitis or muscular dystrophy. These genetic conditions will be detected during the pregnancy phase.

There could be breathing difficulty and restriction of the lung size because of these birth defects. There is also a reduction in oxygen levels, which would harm the growing fetus, and may also cause heart strain in the mother.

3. Does thoracic scoliosis affect pregnancy?

Scoliosis that affects the middle spine is called thoracic scoliosis, and this significantly affects your breathing patterns. It adds up to the breathlessness that is quite common in pregnancy.

4. How does thoracolumbar scoliosis affect pregnancy?

Thoracolumbar scoliosis affects the lower thoracic and the lumbar spine. The spine looks like a C from the front or a reverse C from the back. Pregnancies associated with thoracolumbar scoliosis can cause cardiovascular complications (7).

5. Is it safe to take an epidural after scoliosis surgery?

In the scoliosis surgery where spinal fusion rod is used, epidural can create problems. If the rod is attached to the lower spine, it is impossible to give an epidural. Most obstetricians or gynecologists refuse to give epidurals for women with spinal fusions.

Scoliosis will not affect your chances of becoming a mother or aggravate the problems during pregnancy. Do some research, talk to your doctor, get fit, and there’s nothing to stop you from becoming a mother. Scoliosis should not refrain you from enjoying the beautiful phase of pregnancy.

If you have had scoliosis during pregnancy, please share your experiences with us so that they would be helpful to other new mothers.

Recommended Articles:

The following two tabs change content below.
Profile photo of Rebecca Malachi

Rebecca Malachi

She is a Biotechnologist with a proficiency in areas of genetics, immunology, microbiology, bio-engineering, chemical engineering, medicine, pharmaceuticals to name a few. Her expertise in these fields has greatly assisted her in writing medical and life science articles. With 8+ years of work experience in writing for health and wellness, she is now a full-time contributor for Momjunction.com. She is passionate about giving research-based information to readers in need. Apart from writing, she is a foodie, loves travel, fond of gospel music and enjoys observing nature in silence. Know more about her at: linkedin.com/in/kothapalli-rebecca-35881628
Featured Image