There’s a long list of things that kids grow out of, even some health issues like chronic ear infections, but we’re afraid that scoliosis isn’t one of them.
If we have diagnosed your child with scoliosis, which describes an abnormal curvature in their spine, there are two things we want you to know straight away: 1) The problem won’t go away on its own, and 2) Scoliosis can progress so early intervention is important.
As spine health experts, the team here at Texas Spine Consultants, including Dr. Michael Hennessy, Dr. Chester Donnally, Dr. Heidi Lee, Dr. Andrew Park, and Dr. Robert Viere, has no small amount of experience helping our young patients with scoliosis.
We hesitate to use the word “basic” when it comes to scoliosis as this condition is fairly complex. Scoliosis affects about 6-9 million people in the United States and, far and away, the most common type is adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (it accounts for 80% of scoliosis cases).
So, for the purposes of this discussion, we’re going to focus on this type of scoliosis, which typically presents itself between the ages of 11 and 15. Girls are more at risk than boys for idiopathic scoliosis.
During puberty, kids with idiopathic scoliosis start to develop abnormal curvatures in their spine. Normally, your spine has three C-shaped curves — neck and upper and lower back. With scoliosis, both s-shaped and c-shaped curves can develop in different areas of the spine and to different degrees.
The progression of scoliosis
Since scoliosis develops during puberty, changes can occur in the condition and progress until final bone maturation is reached, which usually occurs before the age of 25.
So, once we diagnose scoliosis in your child, we will monitor them closely to look for signs of progression. For some kids, the curvatures remain mild and don't progress into problematic territory. In these cases, we leave well enough alone, and the child carries the mild curvature into adulthood.
In other cases, however, the curvatures can increase to the point where they create symptoms such as:
- Lopsided shoulders
- Uneven hips
- One side of the rib cage lifts
- Back pain
In very rare cases, an extreme curvature in the spine can lead to problems with breathing.
Treatment options for scoliosis
Our goal is to prevent your child from getting anywhere near problematic symptoms. If we see signs of progression, we can take steps to control the forward march of scoliosis through bracing.
This technique is highly effective in keeping your child’s spine from curving any further, but it has to be done during their growth period. We assure you that modern bracing techniques are far more user-friendly.
If the bracing is ineffective or the scoliosis is severe, we can perform spine surgery to alleviate your child’s symptoms and better control the condition.
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves on treatment options, it’s important that we first assess the degree of your child’s scoliosis before we make any recommendations.
We invite you to contact one of our offices in Addison or Plano, Texas, to schedule a consultation.