If you’re a parent, keeping your kids healthy is probably your number one priority. That’s why noticing that something doesn’t look quite right with your child’s spine may send you into a panic. Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature in the spine. It can occur at any age, but it is most common during childhood. Although it can be concerning, scoliosis is typically is not something you need to panic about.
Pediatricians screen for scoliosis during your child’s well exam, but parents are often the first to notice that something looks different.
Some of the first things you may notice are:
- One of your child’s shoulder appears uneven.
- One shoulder blade is more prominent than the other.
- Your child’s waist appears uneven.
- One hip is higher than the other.
There is no particular cutoff for when to be evaluated by an orthopedic spine doctor.
"If you have any concerns about it, you should come see a specialist," said Dr. Michael Chang, an orthopedic spine surgeon with the medical staff at HonorHealth.
If your child has been diagnosed with scoliosis, you may not need to do anything initially. Depending on the severity of the spine curvature, the first step it typically observation to see how the curvature changes over time. Bracing and surgery are additional treatment options.
If surgery is needed, the spine surgeons at HonorHealth have spent time studying research, establishing protocols and developing methods to streamline surgeries and make them as risk free as possible.
Facts you should know about scoliosis
Scoliosis is common. Scoliosis affects an estimated six to nine million people in the United States, or about 2-3 percent of the US population. "For pediatric spinal surgery, the most common problem we see is scoliosis," Dr. Chang said.
You didn’t cause your child’s scoliosis. Are you feeling guilty because you’ve been sending your child off to school with a backpack that weighs half as much as he does? Don’t. In most cases, scoliosis has no known cause, and there is no evidence to suggest that wearing a heavy backpack can cause scoliosis. This myth has persisted because scoliosis is most common in school age kids, when carrying heavy backpacks to and from school is common. Heavy backpacks have been linked with other back problems, such as back pain. If you’re worried, consider a rolling backpack for your child.
You don’t need to keep your child out of sports. Remaining physically active is important for maintaining flexibility and strength, which have a protective effect against back pain. Keeping your child in sports won’t make your child’s scoliosis worse.
Learn more about orthopedic spine care at HonorHealth.