Scoliosis: Top 5 things to know

Health and Fitness, Latest News, Screening, Topics, What You Should Know

June is Scoliosis Awareness Month, a time to spread awareness about the condition and the benefits of early detection and treatment. 

Scoliosis is a condition where the spine becomes abnormally curved to the side. The curve can look like an “s” or a “c.” The most common kind of scoliosis is idiopathic scoliosis, which does not have a known cause. Here are the top five things to know about scoliosis.

1.  Scoliosis usually develops during the teen years. More than 80% of idiopathic scoliosis cases develop during adolescence. We don’t know why this is, but the body’s rate of growth during this time is suspected to play a role. Both boys and girls can develop scoliosis but is much more common in girls.

2.  Scoliosis can be easy to miss. Your child may not have any noticeable signs or symptoms, especially at the beginning. A formal scoliosis diagnosis is considered when the measure of the curve is 10 degrees or greater. However, a person with a curve between 10-20 degrees is not likely to notice it. Scoliosis is most often discovered during a check-up with a pediatrician or at a school screening. 

3.  Active treatment is usually not needed. In most cases of scoliosis, the curve does not progress enough to cause problems or require treatment. A regular evaluation with a doctor is enough to monitor the condition until the child reaches skeletal maturity. As long as the curve does not reach 25-30 degrees and does not progress more than five degrees in six months, it is not considered high risk.

4.  Rigid bracing can stop curve progression. If the spinal curve has reached at least 25 degrees and the child has not reached skeletal maturity, bracing may be recommended. Currently rigid braces are the only nonsurgical treatment proven to slow scoliosis progression. 

5.  Surgery is the last resort. In rare cases when scoliosis continues to progress past 45-50 degrees, surgery may be considered as a treatment option. If a scoliosis curve has yet to reach 45-50 degrees, the potential risks for surgery likely outweigh the benefits.

Doctors also recommend physical activity and core strengthening exercises to keep the back flexible and strong. 

While most scoliosis cases remain mild, it’s comforting to know there are safe, proven treatment options that are available.