The Early Signs of Scoliosis

Thursday, June 19, 2014 3:45 PM comments (0)

scoliosisScoliosis is a condition characterized by curvature of the spine.  The most common form of scoliosis, called idiopathic scoliosis, occurs in otherwise healthy children.  Although some cases run in families and may have a genetic basis, most cases have no known cause.  

Idiopathic scoliosis starts in the early adolescent years, around ages 10-11.  Initially, most cases are mild, often undetectable, because changes in the appearance of the back develop gradually and cause no pain. However, some curves can get worse during the adolescent growth spurt and may lead to problems later on.  If a curve worsens, the spine begins to rotate, causing the body and ribs to protrude farther out on one side.  Without treatment, severe scoliosis visibly affects the body's appearance, and in some cases may cause pain or affect lung function by reducing available space in the chest for breathing.  

Once even a mild curve is detected, it is important to have a doctor monitor your child’s spine. Fortunately, the vast majority of scoliosis curves are mild and may never need treatment. Some curves may be treated temporarily with a thin plastic brace, which stabilizes the curve and prevents it from getting worse during periods of growth.  Rarely, severe curves may require surgery to correct the curvature and prevent future problems. Children with scoliosis should be seen by a pediatric orthopaedist about every four to six months during periods of growth. 

David Roberts, MD, is a Pediatric Orthopaedic  Surgeon at NorthShore who specializes in scoliosis.  He shares some the early signs of scoliosis that parents should look out for in their children:

  • Uneven shoulders or shoulder blades
  • Rib prominence, with one side more elevated than the other
  • Uneven waistline, with one side appearing higher than the other
  • Uneven hips

Some symptoms can be subtle, so see a physician if there is any question.  

Are your children screened for scoliosis in their schools? 

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A Curved Back – Identifying Scoliosis

Thursday, August 23, 2012 10:50 AM comments (0)

Scoliosis TreatmentOur backs are responsible for helping with movement, posture and overall support. Without a healthy, strong backbone we couldn’t do much. Some children develop an abnormal curve in the spine (otherwise known as scoliosis), that if not properly treated can lead to problems. While there isn’t a set determining factor—such as genetics—for developing scoliosis, it is more common in females.

Our backs are responsible for helping with movement, posture and overall support. Without a healthy, strong backbone we couldn’t do much. For unknown reasons, some children develop an abnormal curve or curves in the spine (otherwise known as idiopatic scoliosis, an example of the unknown reason), that if not properly treated can lead to problems. While there isn’t a set determining factor—such as genetics—for developing scoliosis, it is more common in females.

Some of the common signs to look for when identifying scoliosis include:

  • Prominence (“hump”) on the back or ribs
  • Uneven shoulders
  • Uneven wait
  • Clothes not fitting right on both sides of the body

Eldin Karaikovic, MD, PhD, identifies some of the scoliosis treatment options:

  • Regular doctor check-ups – Depending on the curve progression, it may only be necessary to visit a physician every 4-6 months to measure progress until skeletal maturity.
  • Braces – Braces, now usually made from plastic, are designed to fit each individual patient. These braces typically do not include the neck and chin. Although they should be worn most of the time (23 hours), they can be removed for sports, showering and other activities. 
  • Genetic Testing – While a single "scoliosis" gene has not been identified, the condition does run in families. Within the last year a test has become available to predict possible progression of spine curvature. This test –only available currently for Caucasians—is painless and reduces the amount of radiation and follow-up visits needed. 
  • Surgery – If other treatment methods do not prove successful, surgery is another option. This is often done based on the degree of curvatures and its rate of progression.

Do you know anyone who has or had scoliosis?

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