If the school nurse or your child’s healthcare provider notices signs of scoliosis here are five things a parent should know about scoliosis:
1. Scoliosis is very common. According to the Scoliosis Research Society, scoliosis effects between 2-3% of adolescents. It can develop in kids or adults, but the typical age of onset is between ages 10 and 15.
2. The treatment plan is based on the severity and progression of the curve. Scoliosis is evaluated in terms of degrees of spine curvature:
- A curve that’s 25 degrees or less doesn’t require treatment, just observation.
- From 26 to 45 degrees, kids can be successfully treated with bracing.
- A curve that’s greater than 45 degrees typically requires surgery.
3. Braces are effective and more discrete than in the past. A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found a high rate of treatment success with bracing, with 72% of at-risk children able to avoid surgery. Not surprisingly, the longer these kids wore the brace each day, the greater the likelihood for success. Modern braces are padded and worn under the clothes.
4. Mild curves don’t cause long-term problems. Kids with mild curves less than 45 degrees aren’t at higher risk for back pain later in life, and they can continue with their normal activities.
5. When surgery is required, sooner is better than later. Severe curves will continue to get worse without surgery. The surgeon uses anchors and rods to correct the spine alignment and prevent further complications of scoliosis.
Learn more about the different types of scoliosis in this short video from Dr. Jonathon Fuller.