What is Scoliosis?
Depending on the elementary or middle school you attended, you may have had to line up in front of the nurse’s office and eagerly await a spinal evaluation.
They evaluate for Idiopathic Scoliosis. This is a very common occurrence amongst adolescents with more than 3 million cases diagnosed per year in the US. Most cases are mild, with few symptoms although some children develop spine deformities that get more severe as they grow. Severe scoliosis can be painful. Most cases require little or no treatment at all. It could self correct with time and growth. In a severe case, a back brace or corrective surgery may be needed.
Some other variations are: Congenital Scoliosis, where the spine does not form correctly in utero. Neuromuscular Scoliosis is seen with muscular diseases like cerebral palsy and myelodysplasia. Degenerative Scoliosis, also known as adult onset, stems from a possible compression fracture, facet hypertrophy (which is the breakdown of the joints that provide support, stability, and flexibility to the spine) on one side of the back bone and a decrease in disk height. Finally, Nonstructural Scoliosis, is typically a temporary condition due to a muscle spasm that pulls the spine in one way.
How might it affect my child?
A trained professional can easily spot and diagnose. At your child’s routine check-ups, your doctor should evaluate your child’s spine for early detection signals.
-Infantile scoliosis develops from birth to 3 years old.
-Juvenile develops from 4-9 years old.
-Adolescent develops from 10-18 years old.
During the adolescent years is when you should be closely monitored. This is so they can monitor the child’s curve is progressing or correcting. A cob angle (how the spinal curve is measured) of greater than 10 degrees on an x-ray is also considered to be scoliosis. The typical adolescent patient does not feel pain however, they are more susceptible to muscle spasms due to the muscular imbalances set up by the boney structures.
Every 4-6 months, a doctor with sufficient background in treating this should monitor curves that are less than 25 degrees. A sleeping brace will be given if the curve is progressing. If the brace is unhelpful and the curve shows further progression surgery should be considered. Today they have other options aside from rods that surgeons used to use to stop progression.
Studies show that 90% of diagnosed idiopathic scoliosis never progresses enough to warrant the use of braces or surgery.