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“You have scoliosis. ”

I didn’t expect my chiropractor to say these words on my second appointment for chronic back pain.

Scoliosis is an abnormal sideways curvature of the spine. Curves can be up to 10 degrees mild or up to 100 degrees or more strong.

Corresponding Mayo ClinicSigns and symptoms of scoliosis may include uneven shoulders, a shoulder blade that protrudes more than the other, an uneven waist, one hip higher than the other, a protruding side of the chest, or a protrusion on one side of the chest when you are back bend forward.

While none of these signs of scoliosis stopped me, the chronic pain I felt in various places in my upper, middle, and lower back was so painful that I had to see a doctor.

My case is milder than most as some people need back braces or corrective surgery to avoid permanent damage to the body. Instead, my doctor recommended three exercises that I should do during the week for the rest of my life.

While the exercises will help with my pain, they won’t repair the two curves along my spine on their own. In fact, most chiropractors and doctors who do not treat severe scoliosis focus on ways to relieve pain rather than straightening the spine.

Scoliosis is not a condition that can be cured with a single medication. It is a chronic condition that affects many students and their ability to participate in academia.

Idiopathic scoliosis in adolescents is the most common form of the disease. It accounts for 80% of known cases and is diagnosed in people between the ages of 10 and 18. The cause of idiopathic scoliosis is unknown.

Idiopathic scoliosis is often diagnosed before puberty and is more common in women. Young women may remember that their spine curvature was checked by a school principal at school. For some, this review resulted in a diagnosis that would change their résumé.

Two forms of scoliosis are commonly diagnosed in adults: idiopathic and degenerative.

Degenerative scoliosis, also known as “de novo” scoliosis, is characterized by the fact that it develops anew in adulthood without a history of the disease in adolescence. It often arises due to aging or the accumulation of certain lifestyle choices. It is rarely diagnosed before age 40.

The same diagnosis and symptoms are idiopathic in adults as in children and adolescents. However, many overlook the signs of idiopathic scoliosis because people believe that adult back pain is caused by lifestyle conditions.

From texting to working on the computer at home to poor posture, I’ve heard everything when it comes to the explanations for my back pain. However, the possibility that I had scoliosis was never suspected.

June is recognized as the national month for scoliosis awareness raising; however, the general public rarely discusses this condition. For those who live it, scoliosis isn’t just a month-long experience. It’s a constant presence in their life.

The National Scoliosis Foundation reports that the disease affects an estimated 7 million people in the United States, or approximately 2% of the population. The Mayo Clinic classifies the disease as “very common”. Despite these numbers, we rarely hear much about scoliosis – all of June or otherwise. That has to change.

Although my diagnosis last spring came as a shock, I am grateful for the medical community and the resources I can access to learn more about this condition.

More college-aged students should realize that chronic pain is excruciating and difficult to overcome every day. By raising awareness of chronic pain, we ensure that those affected do not have to suffer alone. Having a community is critical to dealing with any chronic illness and the isolation that comes with it.

More health-related discussions should highlight the possibility of scoliosis when young adults mention chronic back pain rather than dismissing it as “growing pains”.

For medical professionals to take these concerns seriously, we need to start here. By changing the culture around chronic pain and seeking a more universal understanding, we as students can combat the ignorance that prevents people from receiving treatment.

By having conversations in this way, we can advocate for those suffering from chronic pain.