Do you know someone who has a child with scoliosis, or do you have one yourself? Finding the best treatment for your child’s particular type of scoliosis can be a complicated process. Many patients who don’t meet the requirements for surgery are left to see only a nurse, leaving them with inadequate information to treat their child’s unique situation.
The Types of Scoliosis
Many parents don’t know that they have different options for treatment of scoliosis. Those left in the dark tend to take the first option suggested to them, but not every treatment is equal. Let’s explore some of the different types of scoliosis 360 Back and Spine treats and treatment options for adolescents.
What Is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine is curved sideways. Children are most at risk for scoliosis because it typically occurs just before a child’s growth spurt/puberty, and the child’s growth plates will still be open and susceptible to spinal abnormalities. Scoliosis is typically caught during school-mandated physical screenings, but in many cases this condition slips by unnoticed and is dismissed as normal growth.
The onset of idiopathic scoliosis can happen with very little warning, and the progression of this condition can be fast-moving between screenings. Idiopathic scoliosis is most common in adolescents (preteens and teenagers), and in children it can be grouped by age into three different types with the adolescent type being the most common by far.
- Infantile (ages 0-3)
- Juvenile (ages 3-9)
- Adolescent (ages 10-18)
A lot of scoliosis cases in children don’t require any treatment. If a curvature is detected, a spinal surgeon will use an X-ray to determine the degree of curvature and the child’s skeletal maturity level, also known as the Risser sign. This will help determine the course of treatment.
If untreated, major issues can arise from the progression of scoliosis, such as reduced lung function. Issues like this can be quite debilitating, so it’s important for regular checkups to occur for children with scoliosis. There is, however, a silver lining: the risk of developing scoliosis drops dramatically after a child has gone through puberty. In boys, this refers to the age where they must shave regularly; for girls, it’s two years after their first menstruation.
Treatments For Adolescent Scoliosis
Detecting scoliosis and its symptoms is a simple task for an orthopedic surgeon, but it’s helpful to know the signs of scoliosis when you’re a parent. Symptoms of adolescent scoliosis include uneven shoulders, waist or hips, as well as ribs that stick out. Early signs of scoliosis don’t usually include pain, but more advanced scoliosis patients can experience soreness and more acute pain. After scoliosis is diagnosed by your doctor, there are several treatment options your doctor may suggest to you.
Treatment For Mild Scoliosis
Chances that your child with mild scoliosis will need a back brace are minimal, but the possibility still exists. Most children with mild scoliosis are given checkups with X-Rays every four to six months. Girls in particular are more at risk for a greater progression of scoliosis, so they’ll probably have more frequent checkups than boys. More frequent checkups are also recommended for those with S-curves and thoracic scoliosis, because of the natural rate of progression.
Treatment For Moderate Scoliosis
Children with moderate scoliosis may be given back braces to stop progression of a curved spine. Although back braces won’t reverse or cure scoliosis, they may prevent the curvature from increasing. Most braces will be made of a durable plastic that is worn majority of the time and can be taken off if necessary. The brace’s effectiveness increases the more it’s worn, so strict adherence to wearing it day and night is best. Most braces can be discarded when the child is no longer growing.
Surgery can be an option for young children with fast-progressing moderate scoliosis. If a child’s curvature is greater than 40 degrees, surgery is the most likely option, whereas children with curvatures in the 20–30 degree range are more often prescribed back braces.
Treatment For Severe Scoliosis
Adolescents with severe scoliosis will most likely need surgery to correct it. Spinal fusion is the most common form of surgery used on scoliosis patients and involves rotating the spine and placing it in a more anatomic position. Bone graft and hardware are added to maintain the correction.