Scoliosis, or the side-to-side curvature of the spine, can progress at any age, but when identified early, it is important to begin and follow treatments. During childhood and through teenage years, our bodies, including our bones, are undergoing the most growth changes. Scoliosis can be genetic, occur from congenital defects or degeneration in the spine. More females are affected than males. Scoliosis has been shown to change during the adolescent growth spurt for both sexes. Due to hormonal differences in males and females, in a female’s life, it is important to get your scoliosis checked two other times:
• Following childbirth
• After menopause
While surgery is the only scoliosis treatment that will correct the curve, there are various conservative options that can be started at this age to attempt to prevent the curve from needing surgical correction. Bracing, be it supportive or custom molded, is an option for scoliosis patients who are skeletally immature and have an initial measurement of 30-39 degrees, or in those patients who have a documented progression of a curve between 25-40 degrees. A brace does NOT correct a curve; it is designed to halt or slow the progression. The decision to wear a back brace is one to be considered by the patient and their support system. We see many second opinions for bracing and like to consider all aspects of wellness in a person, including the psychosocial along with the most up to date research while considering a brace. Custom molded braces can be ordered and fitted with our in-house Orthotist.
While it is overwhelming for parents to think of a surgery for their child at such a young age, children tend to have better bone quality, less surgical risk, and the fusion surrounding the hardware forms faster. This allows them to quickly return to an active lifestyle with a balanced spine. For many of our children, if the spine curvature is less than 40 degrees, we recommend following them with either x-rays or a scoliometer reading (depending on the size and progression of the curve) at various intervals to monitor changes.
Kyphosis is another disorder that is first noted at a young age. This is more common in males than females and is usually monitored with yearly x-rays to check for progression. There are instances where the curve may be kyphotic at a younger age, and then correct as the child continues to develop. Treatment options for kyphosis include bracing and/or surgery.
The rate of calcium absorption significantly decreases after the age of 30, so it is a good idea to get a strong foundation at a younger age. It is recommended that teenagers take 1000mg of Calcium + Vitamin D daily.
18 year old Sabrina – underwent scoliosis surgery for a 44 degree T7-T12 curve
“I just wanted to send you all another encouraging update. In case anyone asks if you can return to competitive swimming after major scoliosis surgery, I think you can answer with an emphatic YES. Last night at the ACC Championships, Sabrina and her teammates pulled off a surprising upset and won the 200 Medley Relay! Not only was their time fast enough to set a new school record, but it also qualified them for the NCAA Championships next month. Sabrina led off the relay and swam her fastest 50 yard Backstroke time ever! She swam the first leg/stroke of the relay (backstroke is first in the medley relay) and she won (first backstroker to touch the wall), so she had VT in the lead, and the breaststroker, the butterflyer and then the freestyler maintained that lead for the win. All of this, and it has not even been 10 months since she was fused T5-L1 last May. It’s been a lot of hard work on her part to return to competition, and we can’t thank you enough for you and your team’s skill and kindness throughout the process. Please feel free to share this with your team and anyone else looking for encouragement facing such a major surgery.”
15 year old Brynna – underwent scoliosis surgery for a T6-11 curve measuring 41 degrees and a T11-L4 curve measuring 31 degrees
“Here are a few pictures of her playing soccer. Her team won the Girls NC Challenge State Cup today! Thanks for the fantastic success of the operation!”
– Brynna’s Mom
13 year old Haley – underwent scoliosis surgery for a T10-L3 curve measuring 34 degrees and a T5-T10 curve measuring 41 degrees
“I can’t believe it’s been 2 and 1/2 years since her surgery. She was initially concerned that the surgery would negatively impact her dancing but in a few short weeks she’ll be heading off to the North Carolina School of the Arts for her final 2 years of high school.
I was very nervous taking her to the audition since their ballet program is very competitive. I even suggested she cover her back so no one would make assumptions. But no one noticed her limited flexibility or the 12-inch scar, they only noticed her passion. Scoliosis and the surgery haven’t stopped her from following her dreams.
We will always be great full for you and your staff and feel blessed by her positive outcome.”
– Haley’s Mom
14 year old Maria – underwent a scoliosis surgery for a T7-T11 curve measuring 47 degrees
“As you can see, Maria is “back in full swing” so to speak with her sports now. Her confidence improves with each game!”
- Maria’s Mom