Watch Out For Scoliosis

     What is scoliosis?

    Scoliosis is a "side to side" curve of the back.
    It is a deformity the spinal column or backbone.
    What causes scoliosis?
    Most scoliosis is of unknown cause ("idiopathic"). Recent studies suggest that heredity does play a part in these cases. Therefore, if a person is found to have scoliosis, other family members should also be checked.
    Who is affected by scoliosis?
    Anyone can be affected by scoliosis. Onset usually occurs between the ages of 10 and 13, when the child begins the rapid growth spurt. Scoliosis can affect members of both sexes, but occurs more frequently in females, who account for approximately 85% of the cases.
    Why is screening for scoliosis important?
    It is most important to detect t the condition as early as possible so that treatment can be provided. Without treatment, undetected scoliosis can get worse rapidly during the growth years and result in physical deformity, limitation of physical activity and other more serious complications.
    What are the signs of scoliosis?
    Frequent signs are a bump over the should blade; one shoulder or hip higher than the other; unequal distance between the arms and body, and clothes that "don't hang right." These signs are not always noticed and can be easily mistaken for poor posture.
    What is the treatment for scoliosis?
    In many instances of mild curvature, periodic supervision by a doctor is all that is necessary. When medical treatment becomes necessary, an orthopedic surgeon (bone specialist) may recommend a brace or surgery depending on the condition.
    Regular follow-up while the child is wearing the brace is important. The doctor may prescribe a daily exercise and fitness program to maintain the muscles in good shape and promote a sense of well being, but exercise alone will not correct the problem.
    When other methods have failed or the scoliosis is severe, surgery may be necessary.  After the operation, the child will need to wear a cast or brace for a number of months and continue to be supervised by an orthopedic surgeon. The remaining disability may be minimal and the patient may lead a normal life after recovery.
    Are schools required to provide screening?
    House Bill 832 passed by the Texas Legislature in 1985 required screening form abnormal spinal curves in grades 6 and 9 (schools may adopt programs to screen grades 5 and 8 instead of 6 and 9). If a child shows any signs of a possible deformity, the school is required to notify the parents.
    What can parents do?
    If notifies that their child may have an abnormal spinal curve, parents should take their child to the doctor for a diagnosis. Parents can also learn to check their child for a curve of the spine. If they suspect that their child may have a problem, they may check with the school inures, the health department, or their private doctor.

    Instructions on how to check your child for scoliosis

      • 1 Instruct your child to bend down, without a shirt on (bra is okay) and touch her toes. While she is doing that, check the alignment of her spine using your eyes and a finger down her spine. Go from where the spine connects with the skull all the way down to the tailbone. Does it look straight? Get the opinion of your second set of eyes. It's sometimes difficult to tell; write down anything you have doubts about or might be questioning. This is the scoliosis test that school nurses commonly do in schools, usually at about seventh grade.
      • 2 Stand your child straight at "attention" while her shirt is still off and her back is towards you. Look at the alignment of her shoulders and shoulder blades as well as her hips. Does one shoulder appear to be higher than the other? Are the hips aligned? Another way you can check for this is to stand her up against a wall and mark the wall with a pencil at the level her shoulders go. Are they even? If you marked the wall, get out a tape measure to find out for sure; your eyes might deceive you, but the tape measure won't. Make sure you make the mark at the same place for each shoulder. If you don't, it won't be even, but it's caused by human error, not scoliosis.
      • 4 Make an appointment with your family doctor if any these tests seem to indicate possible scoliosis; it's better to be safe than sorry. Your family doctor can make a formal assessment (possibly through an x-ray analysis) and recommend you to a pediatric orthopaedic doctor if necessary. If they do not recommend another doctor for further analysis and possible treatment, call around. There are not many doctors who treat scoliosis and you don't want to waste your time seeing someone who will not be able to help you.