(Spine Curvature · Spinal Curvature)
In this condition factsheet:
Mild scoliosis may be detected during a routine physical examination. Usually a doctor may suspect scoliosis when a child has one shoulder that seems higher than the other or when clothes don't seem to "hang right" on a child. In most cases, the doctor will be able to diagnose scoliosis based on a simple, forward-bending test.
The doctor will examine the levels of the shoulders and shoulder blades and the curve of the ribs as the child or adolescent bends slowly forward. A greater dip in one shoulder usually is a sign of scoliosis. Ribs may be curved differently from one side to the other. X-rays aren't always necessary but may be used to determine the severity of the spine's curvature.
Treating and Preventing Scoliosis
Treatment will be based on the severity of the spine's curvature. In mild cases, treatment isn't necessary. The more severe the curve, the greater the chances that the condition will progress. About 50% of children with scoliosis will need some form of treatment or at least require close follow-up with a doctor. Prompt treatment will usually prevent the condition from worsening.
For progressive scoliosis, a customized brace or plaster cast will be needed to hold the spine straight. The brace is made to extend from the hips to the neck and must be worn for about 23 hours a day. The brace is worn until the skeleton stops growing rapidly, which is usually when adolescents have almost reached full height.
For many young patients, wearing a brace to school can be very stressful and frustrating. Counselling and support can help children and adolescents adjust and deal with negative feelings and concerns. Without the help of the brace (and sometimes despite brace use), the scoliosis can get worse and surgery may be required. In very severe cases, surgical correction of the spine may be necessary and most commonly involves a spinal fusion with attachment of metal rods to the spine. In the majority of cases, a back brace or surgery helps correct the problem.
Another treatment sometimes used is electrospinal stimulation. In this procedure, the spinal muscles are stimulated with tiny electrical currents and strengthened, and this may help straighten out the spine.
A family history of scoliosis is an important risk factor. If you have a family history of scoliosis, take your child to see your family doctor or a pediatrician for early screening. Learn about exercises that can improve posture and strengthen the muscles that support the spine (e.g., abdominal muscles). When detected early and treated appropriately, scoliosis may not progress or cause major disability.References