by Kimberly Allen RN
Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine is curve to the side. There are over 7 million people with scoliosis in the US. It affects girls twice as often as boys, though it can affect anyone at anytime it is usually diagnosed in people over 10 years of age.
There are 3 main types of scoliosis. The most common being idiopathic which means there is no known cause. This type accounts for approximately 65% of the diagnosed cases of scoliosis. Then there is congenital scoliosis which results from a malformation of the spine in utero, usually occurring between 3-6 weeks. Congenital scoliosis occurs in approximately 15% of all scoliosis cases. The third type is called neuromuscular scoliosis because it develops secondary to a neuromuscular disease like cerebral palsy and marfan syndrome. This type account for 10% of the scoliosis cases diagnosed.
Though Drs don’t know what causes most cases of scoliosis they do know that it can run in families. Scoliosis usually develops during the growth spurt that occurs just before puberty. Approximately half of the states in the US require public schools to test students for scoliosis. The test is very simple and easy on the child. The Dr or nurse will have the child bend over keeping their knees straight and touch their toes and then they’ll look at the child’s back to see if the spine is curved.
Children with mild scoliosis usually don’t need to be treated with a brace or surgery. However, it is recommended that they be monitored closely for any signs of progression. When considering treatment your Dr will weigh several factors including the child’s sex as girls have a greater tendency to worsen than boys. The Dr will then look at the curve, the severity of the curve, pattern and location of the curve all help determine not only the need for treatment but the type of treatment. Then the Dr will determine if your child’s bones are still growing. These braces can not cure or reverse scoliosis but they can prevent progression of the curve. Surgery is usually reserved for adults with severe curvature that is causing problems.
Scoliosis can be difficult for children especially teens to cope with because their body’s are already going through numerous changes. Encourage your child/teen to become knowledgeable about scoliosis and to share the information with his/her friends and to include them in his/her support system.
Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to HealthAndFitnessTalk.com, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.