Scoliosis is a term used to describe someone whose spine curves from side to side. This condition is most common in children and teenagers. A lot of people are under the impression that scoliosis is more common among girls, but in reality, it is diagnosed equally among girls and boys. Girls who develop scoliosis are more likely to have a curve that gets worse and that eventually requires treatment, which is probably where the misconception about it being more common in girls comes from. About 2% of the American population has scoliosis.
Scoliosis is classified into three categories, congenital, neuromuscular, and idiopathic. Congenital scoliosis is present at the time of birth. Neuromuscular scoliosis is a result of a neurological condition. Idiopathic scoliosis is when neither of two mentioned before apply. Idiopathic scoliosis in teenagers is the most common type of scoliosis and is usually diagnosed during puberty.
There are many symptoms that indicate scoliosis. Someone’s shoulders could be uneven, or the shoulder blades may stick out. Their head may not be directly above their pelvis as it should be. One hip could be higher than the other, or both could be abnormally high. Someone’s rib cage or waist could be uneven. A person’s body could have a tendency to lean to one side instead of being upright. For the most part, scoliosis does not cause pain, although it is possible.
If a child or teenager is found to have scoliosis and the curve is not at a very high degree, a physician may choose to only keep an eye on the patient’s back rather than try to treat it. By doing this they examine the child every now and then and make sure that the curve is not getting worse.
There is the option of a brace to treat scoliosis. A brace can only be used when someone is still growing and when the curve in their spine is between 25 and 4o degrees. Braces are not the most fun things to treat scoliosis, but it has been proven to stop the curve from getting worse in 80% of people. The brace has to be worn 16 to 23 hours of the day and the brace must be used according to directions for it to work, and not everyone who has to wear this will comply.
Surgery is also an option, but only when the curve is sever (40 degrees or more). Surgery does stop some curves from progressing. Although for some people surgery is beneficial, it is not that way for everyone. There have been cases in which the surgery has failed and the curve has continued to get worse. Surgery is not a guarantee that the curve will straighten out or that the symptoms will no longer be there. Before having surgery, one should consider the risks very carefully.