What You Need to Know About Scoliosis and Your Child

Your priorities change quickly when you become a parent. Suddenly, everything that was once of the utmost importance fades into the background, leaving only one thing: your child. All you want is for your child to have a happy, healthy life full of joy and success.

Unfortunately, this desire for the best sometimes does not align with reality. Many children do not have perfect, carefree childhoods. From injuries of varying degrees to health issues outside of anyone’s control, it is not unusual for kids to face challenges that many adults cannot fathom.

When your child is diagnosed with a medical condition, feelings of confusion, fear, and even anger can be overwhelming. What does the diagnosis mean? What are the options for treatment? Will your child still be able to thrive?

Scoliosis is a relatively common condition that affects around 3% of people but is still somewhat mysterious to everyone save those who are exposed to it in a personal way. If your child is diagnosed with scoliosis, don’t panic or overreact. It is typically a very manageable condition!

Here are a few key things you should know about scoliosis that will help you and your young one face the challenge head-on.

What is Scoliosis?

Simply put, scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine. If you look at your back, you’ll notice that there is a natural curve that runs front-to-back, not side-to-side. Someone with scoliosis has an S or C shaped spine that abnormally curves side-to-side.

There are a handful of different types of scoliosis as well. The three main types of scoliosis are: congenital (occurs during fetal development), neuromuscular (associated with neurological conditions), and idiopathic (unknown). Of these, idiopathic scoliosis is by far the most common, with over 80% of cases falling into this category.

What are the Symptoms of Scoliosis?

Scoliosis can affect each individual differently, but there are a few generalities that can be made concerning the symptoms associated with the condition. Spoiler alert: it’s almost all good news!

Once a child is diagnosed with scoliosis, typically by routine medical exam, the fear associated with medical conditions can come flooding in on both the child and the parents. Before you allow yourself to become overwhelmed with “what ifs,” remember this: the vast majority of scoliosis cases don’t require active treatment and long-term outcomes are prodigiously positive.

Often, the symptoms of scoliosis are limited to minor physical imbalances. For example, one hip may be higher than the other due to the abnormal curvature of the spine.

What are the Treatment Options for Scoliosis?

While many cases of scoliosis are not severe enough to warrant treatment, there are several methods that can be used to treat the condition. The factors that determine whether or not treatment is needed, as well as what method of treatment is best, are typically the severity of the curve, the likelihood that it worsens, and the amount of growth a child is still expected to experience.

Most cases of scoliosis that require treatment need only a brace to prevent any further curvature to develop. These braces, which are relatively unobtrusive and unnoticeable in day-to-day life, are typically worn all day, but may be used only part-time or removed for certain activities such as sports.

Occasionally, a case will be severe enough to warrant surgery. While uncommon, this type of surgery is sometimes used to fuse bones in the spine together, effectively eliminating the possibility of continued curving.

Our Final Thoughts About Scoliosis

Watching your child face the challenge of a medical condition is a hard thing to do, but being informed can give you the upper hand in securing the best treatment and ensuring your child has the brightest future possible.

When it comes to scoliosis, the outlook is extremely positive. Many cases require no treatment all, and the cases that do require treatment typically need only temporary, superficial treatment—nothing invasive. Even in extreme cases where surgery is necessary, medical science has progressed to the point that your child will be back on their feet and thriving in no time!

Be sure to take this information and communicate closely with your child’s doctor and orthopedist to determine the ideal route to take. After all, you both want the same thing: the best possible future for your child who has their whole life ahead of them.