June is National Scoliosis Awareness Month, a time to increase awareness of a condition that many have not heard of, despite it impacting around 7 million people in the United States alone. Scoliosis is an abnormal sideways curvature of the spine, resulting in a spine that sometimes curves into a “C” or “S” shape. Though in some instances, people may be born with scoliosis or the condition may result from another neuromuscular condition such as cerebral palsy, the cause is unknown in most cases (more than 80%). It’s not a completely hereditary condition, though it does tend to run in families. Females with scoliosis are particularly impacted as they enter young adolescence, being that they are five to eight times more likely to see the degree of their curve increase substantially and necessitate further treatment during those teenage years.
Treatment is generally dependent on a child’s age, in addition to the location of and degree to which their curve has progressed. Observation and/or bracing may be potential treatment options for children who are still growing, or whose curves are smaller in degree measurement. If curves measure greater in size and/or continue to progress, surgical treatment may be proposed.
Scoliosis can impact people at nearly any age, but it is most often discovered when children are between 10 to 15 years old. Current recommendations by The Scoliosis Research Society are that girls be screened twice for the condition, at ages 10 and 12, while boys get screened once at age 12 or 13. Early, non-invasive screenings by a primary care provider are simple, quick, and key in receiving earlier treatment by a specialist, if necessary, and avoiding more serious health issues that greater curves can cause in later adulthood - such as severe back pain and lessened lung function. Even if treatment eventually involves surgical intervention, those who do receive a confirmed diagnosis can still live full, active lives.
Murray County Medical Center’s providers may be some of the first people in your child’s life to recognize early signs of scoliosis and are here to help! Be sure to ask about a scoliosis screening during your child’s next annual check-up. Call (507) 836-6111 to schedule an appointment today.