Scoliosis, a condition characterized by a curvature of the spine, affects more people than you might realize. According to the Mayo Clinic, about 3% of adolescents have been diagnosed with scoliosis. As challenging as this medical issue might be, its effects can be mitigated with proper treatment.
Signs and Symptoms
While a curved spine might sound alarming, the good news is that most cases of scoliosis are actually relatively mild. For children with mild scoliosis, a typical treatment protocol calls for careful monitoring via X-rays, which allow doctors to determine if the spinal curvature is worsening. If the child’s condition does not worsen, which is often the case, there is a good chance that further treatment will be deemed unnecessary.
The common symptoms associated with scoliosis included uneven shoulders and an uneven waist. In addition, one of the child’s shoulder blades might seem to stand out more than the other, and the child’s hips might be at different heights. Should the curve in the spine become more pronounced, the spinal column will begin to rotate or even twist. Furthermore, one side of the child’s rib cage will begin to press against the skin.
There are a number of risk factors for scoliosis. One such risk factor is age, as the onset of scoliosis symptoms will first appear right before puberty, when children hit their first growth spurt. Gender also plays a role in scoliosis development, since girls are much more likely to experience worsening spinal curvature. It also bears mentioning that scoliosis can be a hereditary condition.
As mentioned earlier, scoliosis often requires no medical treatment. This is especially true if the affected child’s bones have stopped growing. More serious cases involving still-growing children might necessitate the use of a brace. While not able to reverse the curve of the spinal column, a brace is usually successful in preventing the curve from further bending and twisting.
Severe cases of scoliosis might require surgery to adequately address. Usually, this means that the surgeon will fuse at least two spinal vertebrae, using such items such as metal rods, hooks, screws or wires to facilitate the fusion.