Adolescence is an extraordinarily tumultuous time as a child’s mental and physical health undergo significant changes. Even the slightest deviation from a typical developmental path can lead to self-esteem problems, which is especially true of scoliosis.
Here at Texas Spine Consultants, Dr. Michael Ware Hennessy and our team understand the effects that scoliosis can have on a person’s physical and mental health, and we’re here to help.
Scoliosis and teens
Scoliosis is a condition that describes an abnormal curvature in the spine. In most cases, scoliosis makes itself known during adolescence between the ages of 10 and 15 and affects both boys and girls equally. Progression of scoliosis that requires treatment, however, affects girls far more, as they outpace boys by more than eight to one on this front.
There are varying degrees of scoliosis, which can lead to progressive problems with:
- Uneven shoulders
- Offset head
- Uneven hips and waist
- Body leaning to one side
- Changes in skin texture
In mild cases, these symptoms may not be noticeable, but the curvature can worsen as your child goes through adolescence, leading to problems with self-esteem.
Scoliosis and emotional health
The teenage years are an emotional roller coaster ride under the best of circumstances as hormones come on-line and bodies change. When these changes don’t proceed according to “normal” standards, the effects can take their toll.
To illustrate this point, one study found that, among adolescents with scoliosis, their odds for having suicidal thoughts or feelings about poor body developmental were substantially higher than those without scoliosis.
While it may seem logical that the more severe the curvature, the more your child may suffer from self-esteem issues, studies reviewed here have found that the degree of curvature may not play a role. This means that any degree of scoliosis can impact your child’s emotional health, as it represents a deviation from their peers.
Treating teenage scoliosis from all angles
As a parent, you may be focused on correcting the physical problem in order to give your child the best possible start in life, but you need to be mindful of the impact that treatment can have.
For example, putting your child in a brace, which is our frontline treatment for scoliosis in adolescents, should be approached carefully. Your child may put on a brave face and you may content yourself knowing that you’re doing what’s best for their future, but teens aren’t future thinkers. Most teens live in the moment, and when their moment involves a “deformity” and a brace, we need to ensure that we address their emotional health alongside their physical health.
Open conversations about their scoliosis can go a long way and we’re happy to help play a role. You may also want to seek out a therapist or a support group so that your child has a safe place to air their feelings about their self-esteem.
The bottom line is that scoliosis is a physical problem that can cast a wide net over your child’s mental health, so we need to be vigilant on both fronts. To learn more, please contact one of our offices in Addison or Plano, Texas.