What is Adolescent Scoliosis? This is a common question and concern for Adolescents and their parents. Did this get missed from their last appointment with pediatrician?
Did the school miss it? What do we do now? Adolescent scoliosis can develop at any time, most commonly in the pre-teen years, but can occur any time. It can rapidly progress during growth spurts however. Adolescent scoliosis is a curvature of the spine greater than 10 degrees. Scoliosis is a rotational deformity of the spine, and the body compensates for this rotation with the classic “S” shaped scoliosis curvature.
What will my child with scoliosis feel? Why don’t they have any pain?
Unlike adult scoliosis, adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is a painless condition. It rarely limits sports or activities. The shoulders may be a little unequal, or you may notice a “hump” on your child’s back. Depending on the amount of the curve, the child may experience breathing difficulties with sports or activities, but these occur when the curvature is greater than 45 degrees.
How do we treat Adolescent Scoliosis? As with most spinal conditions, conservative management is the main stay for treatment. This including physical therapy and bracing. There are strict criteria developed by the Scoliosis Research Society regarding length of brace wear, when to start brace wear and when to stop. There are limitations with bracing and they do not work for everyone.
Will the brace correct my child’s adolescent scoliosis? This is common question. Bracing can help the progression of the curve, but only rarely will reverse the scoliosis. More commonly, it keeps the scoliosis from progressing. Being a member of the Scoliosis Research Society I tailor every surgical decision making process to each unique patient and their specific disc pathology. This can vary, obviously, depending on the pathology and the patient.
Will the curve progress? Again, this is a question that can only be tailored to the specific patient. In general, studies have shown that curves progress depending on how much growth is remaining. Long term multi-decade studies have shown that even if the curve is greater than 30 degrees in the lower spine or 50 in the upper spine, it will continue to progress throughout life.