First, what is scoliosis?
Scoliosis is when the spine isn’t in the proper shape and curves. Instead of the spine being straight from the front, it is curved and rotated. Cosmetically, scoliosis can lead to uneven shoulders, shoulder blade wings, uneven waist and back humping especially when leaning forward. Even more concerning, scoliosis can lead to pain during every day activities, severe worsening during growth spurts and gradual progression during aging. In severe cases, scoliosis is the result of an underlying neurologic problem or can lead to heart and lung issues if the curve progresses too far.
What are the risks of scoliosis?
During the ages of 10-15, 1 to 2 children out of 50 will be diagnosed with scoliosis. This I also the time of rapid progression of scoliosis during growth spurts. Due to this fact, multiple screenings at different ages may be necessary to properly identify scoliosis early . The sooner scoliosis is identified the sooner that proper treatment can be provided minimizing cosmetic changes, pain and possibly avoiding surgery. Studies have also shown that children with scoliosis have a lower self-image and are more socially awkward.
When should your child be screened for scoliosis?
Screening times are different for boys and girls due to their different growth rates. Girls should be screened at 10 and again at 12 while boys should be screened at 13-14. Girls are screened twice because of the rapid growth progression that can occur. These are general guidelines, if a parent, teacher, coach, or other notices any of the abnormal postures mentioned earlier, a screening should be performed as soon as possible. Scoliosis screenings are quick, painless and involve essentially zero risk. Dr. Fisher gladly performs complimentary scoliosis screenings.
An interesting fact is that dancers, gymnasts and competitive swimmers are much more likely to develop scoliosis or have the curve progress fast than children not involved in these activities. For that reason we highly recommend these children are screened multiple times and closely observed by their parents for any early warning signs.
Why does scoliosis go undetected?
During the time of the most rapid progression of scoliosis is when children begin assuming nearly all of their own personal care including bathing and dressing. This along with wearing loose or bulky clothes can make it easy for scoliosis to go undiagnosed. In addition, Illinois does not have mandatory scoliosis screening in schools. Also, there are a number of myths considering the risks, diagnosis and treatment of scoliosis that we will further explore in a different post.
While the cause of scoliosis is unknown and there is no cure, treatments have advanced considerably in the last 10 years.
What are the long term risks of scoliosis?
The most severe risk of progressing scoliosis is surgery. While in some cases it may be unavoidable (and a clinic success would be to postpone it as long as possible), early proper treatment is essential. Scoliosis can lead to abnormal postures which can decrease a childs self-image, lead to awkward socialization and studies have shown lower rates of marriage. In addition, while studies haven’t shown any decrease in life expectancy, they have shown a lower quality of life for persons with scoliosis