You brought your child to a Utah doctor and walked out feeling more confused than ever. It turns out your child’s back pain and breathing difficulties can be due to a spinal condition called scoliosis. If you ever find yourself in the same dilemma, wondering whether your child has scoliosis and what it actually is, then you’ve come to the right place.
It’s time to shed a spotlight on one of the less discussed but most impacting medical conditions that can begin in childhood.
What Is Scoliosis?
Let’s begin with the anatomy of the spine. Your spinal column has 24 bones that move, but they group according to the three major sections:
- Cervical, which is in the neck region
- Thoracic, which is in the middle area of the body
- Lumbar, which is in the lower back
These bones are also on top of one another. In between the bones are discs, which provide your spine flexibility and reduce the impact of shock or trauma. Every vertebra, meanwhile, can look like a tripod since it has two facet joints at the rear and a big disc at the front.
Because of the unique structure of the spine, it isn’t as straight as many people believe. It is inward around the cervical area, then slightly outward in the thoracic. It is then inward again in the lumbar region.
Scoliosis occurs when there’s an abnormality in the curvature. To be specific, the curve seems to go sideways. The severity of the condition depends on the degree of the curve.
In some cases, it doesn’t need any treatment at all. Perhaps the best thing to do is to monitor its progression. In others, it can be severe enough to warrant even surgery or the installation of a brace.
The condition affects at least 2% of the population, and it can begin in early childhood (although it can also occur during adulthood). It also impacts males and females equally. Early diagnosis and intervention are necessary to ensure that it doesn’t progress.
What Are the Common Treatments?
The best treatment depends on the examination and prognosis of the orthopedic doctors in Provo, but options can include the following:
One of the most effective types of physical therapy is the Schroth method. It is a customized exercise plan in which the objective is to bring the curvature to its natural position as much as possible. Some of its techniques include teaching the patient proper posture and restoring the symmetry of the muscles.
The doctor is more likely to recommend surgery in severe cases or when the progression of the condition is fast. It’s not usually the first line of treatment because of the risks involved, although newer spinal fusion surgeries provide better outcomes.
Braces are an appliance the patient needs to wear to delay the progression of the spinal curvature. It is ideal for those diagnosed before they reached their teens. What it does is compress certain types of bones to slow down their growth. At the same time, it can hasten the development of slow-growing bones.
When left untreated, scoliosis can worsen once the child reaches adulthood. It can become severe and compress the rib cage, putting significant pressure on the lungs and heart, which in turn needs to pump harder. It can also squeeze other internal organs or induce back pain.
The sooner your child gets treatment, the better. An orthopedic specialist in Utah can provide you with the right advice and peace of mind.