In a normal spine when viewed from behind, the spine would be straight up and down. When a person has scoliosis, this isn’t the case. With scoliosis there is a sideways curve in the person’s spine. This typically occurs during the growth spurt just before an adolescent reaches puberty.
Our spine specialists at Coastal Spine help patients manage their scoliosis.
What causes scoliosis?
The cause of most cases of scoliosis is unknown, but it’s not an overly rare condition. Around three percent of adolescents have scoliosis.
Most cases are mild, but some spine deformities continue to get more severe as children grow. In these cases, the severity can be disabling. An especially severe spinal curve can reduce the amount of space within the person’s chest, making proper lung function difficult.
What are the symptoms of scoliosis?
Signs and symptoms of scoliosis may include:
- Uneven shoulders
- One shoulder blade that appears to be more prominent than the other
- Uneven waist
- One hip higher than the other
If scoliosis worsens, the person’s spine will also rotate or twist, in addition to the curvature. This can cause the ribs on that side to protrude compared with the other side.
Both adolescent boys and girls have about the same rate of developing mild scoliosis, but girls have a much higher risk of developing more involved scoliosis that may require treatment.
How is scoliosis treated?
Most children with scoliosis have only a mild curving of their spine, and they won’t require bracing or surgery. It’s typically enough to keep tabs on the child’s spine and its curvature as he or she continues to grow.
Whether scoliosis needs treatment is always an individual decision, based on the severity of the curve, the curve pattern, the location, and the age of the patient.
Bracing is often used with adolescents. These braces are worn under clothing, and they cover the torso through the hips. These will not cure scoliosis or reverse any curve, but they usually prevent further progression of the curve. The most common brace is made of plastic and is contoured to conform to the body. They are virtually invisible when worn under clothes. To be truly effective, braces need to be worn day and night.
In some cases, our three board-certified spine surgeons may need to perform scoliosis surgery to reduce the severity of the curve. This surgery is typically spinal fusion. In younger patients, a rod can be used that can be lengthened every six months to enable growth.
Does your child show signs of scoliosis? Call us at Coastal Spine, (856) 222-4444, to schedule an appointment with our spine specialists.