Scoliosis is a deformity of the spine that causes it to have a pronounced curve, measuring at least 10 degrees or more. It affects the thoracic or lumbar region of the spine. As a result, the shoulders, hips, and waist look uneven. The arms may hang awkwardly beside the body. The head may not look centered with the rest of the body. One side of the shoulder blade may become more prominent than the other.
Scoliosis commonly affects children. Approximately 3 million new cases of scoliosis are diagnosed each year in the United States. Scoliosis treatments for children include bracing and spinal fusion surgery. Approximately 29,000 surgeries are performed each year to treat scoliosis. If your child’s spine is developing abnormally, see a doctor for a diagnosis.
What Is The Goal of Scoliosis Treatment?
The goal of scoliosis treatment is to prevent the existing curvature from getting worse and curvature correction. Symptoms that may develop from scoliosis, such as rib pain, heart and lung problems, nerve compression, and emotional problems, are important considerations for treating the condition.
A spine curvature that measures at 10 degrees but less than 25 degrees may only need observation. The doctor may check every few months if the curve is progressing. Curvature that progresses higher may need treatment.
Bracing As a Treatment for Scoliosis
Bracing as a treatment for scoliosis is commonly used if the patient has a curvature of 25 to 30 degrees and has not reached skeletal maturity. This typically is not recommended for adolescents that have reached skeletal maturity (occurs at the age of 14 for girls and 16 for boys).
School-age children who are still growing may benefit from bracing. This technique can prevent the progression of the curve and can keep it manageable (below 40 degrees). Ideally, bracing will prevent the growth of the curved bone and encourage the growth of normal bone. It will not reverse the curvature of the spine, however. If bracing is successful, the patient may be able to avoid major surgery.
Surgery for Scoliosis
A patient with a spine curvature that measures 40 degrees or more will most likely need to undergo surgery. This degree of curvature tends to worsen with age. Spinal fusion surgery is commonly used to treat children and adolescents with severe spine curvature that cannot be treated with bracing. The goal is to let two vertebrae of the spine fuse into one.
During the procedure, the doctor cuts the bone and puts it back in a straight position using rods and screws to hold the two bones in the ideal position. They will then place a bone graft, so the bones fuse into one single bone. This procedure can correct the curvature and relieve symptoms that the patient may be feeling due to the severe spine deformity.
Spinal Surgeon in Rochester Hills, Bad Axe, and Lapeer, Michigan
Your child deserves the best spine surgeon for scoliosis treatment. Dr. Bradley D. Ahlgren of Ahlgren Spine is a board-certified spine surgeon, highly skilled and experienced in scoliosis treatments. If surgery is necessary, Dr. Ahlgren can perform a minimally invasive spinal fusion surgery, so your child has a faster and more comfortable recovery.