Scoliosis is a medical condition in which a person's spine is curved from side to side. Although it is a complex three-dimensional deformity, on an X-ray, viewed from the rear, the spine of an individual with scoliosis may look more like an "S" or a "C" than a straight line. Scoliosis is typically classified as either congenital (present at birth), idiopathic (cause unknown), or neuromuscular (symptom of another condition). Scoliosis affects approximately seven million people in the United States. It occurs most often during the growth spurt just before puberty. While scoliosis can be caused by conditions such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy, most scoliosis causes are unknown. Scoliosis most often causes no symptoms in a child until the spinal curve becomes large. One might notice early signs with close observation. A child may have one shoulder or hip that looks higher than the other. Or the child's head does not look centered over the body. A child could possible have one shoulder blade that sticks out more than the other. The last early scoliosis symptom to watch for is if a child's waistline is flat on one side, or the ribs look higher on one side when the child bends forward at the waist.
Scoliosis Medical Treatment
Most children with scoliosis have mild curves and likely will not need scoliosis treatment with a brace or surgery. Children who have mild scoliosis may need checkups every four to six months to monitor changes in the curvature of their spines. Though guidelines for mild, moderate and severe curves do exist, the decision to begin scoliosis treatment is made on a case-by-case basis. A physician will consider the child's sex (girls have a higher risk of progression), severity of the curve, curve pattern (S-curves worsen more than C-curves), location of the curvature, and bone maturity. If a child's bones are still growing, a doctor may recommend a brace. This won't cure scoliosis, or reverse the curve, but it can prevent further progression of the curve. Braces are worn day and night and will be discontinued after the bones stop growing. A surgery called spinal fusion may be recommended for severe scoliosis treatment. Spinal fusion connects two or more of the spinal bones (vertebrae) together with new bone. This is accomplished with either metal rods, hooks, screws or wires to hold the spine straight and rigid while the bone heals. The process is similar to the healing of any other broken bone.
Scoliosis Lifestyle and Home Treatment
Scoliosis lifestyle and home treatments are not abundant. Although physical therapy exercises can't stop scoliosis, general exercise or participating in sports may provide the benefit of improving overall health and well being. An occupational therapist can provide assistance through assessment, interventions, and ongoing evaluation of the condition, which can help one manage physical symptoms and participate in daily activities. Studies have shown that chiropractic manipulation, electrical stimulation of muscles and biofeedback are all ineffective treatments for scoliosis. Coping with scoliosis is difficult for a young person in an already complicated stage of life. A strong supportive peer group can have a significant impact on a child's acceptance of scoliosis, and he or she should talk to friends and ask for support. One may consider joining a support group of parents and kids with scoliosis. Group members can provide advice, share real-life experiences and help connect with others facing similar challenges. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) provides information and education to raise awareness of musculoskeletal conditions, with an emphasis on preventative measures. And the Scoliosis Research Society (SRS) fosters optimal care for those with any disorder that may affect the shape, alignment, or function of the spine.