Scoliosis is a disorder primarily characterized by the abnormal lateral curvature of the spine, causing the spine to look like an “S” or “C” curve. The condition may occur at any age and is more common in girls than boys. Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common type of scoliosis but its exact cause is unknown in most cases.
Types of idiopathic scoliosis
Idiopathic scoliosis can be classified to three types depending on the age of occurrence.
Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is the most typical condition affecting adolescents at the age of 10.
Infantile idiopathic scoliosis commonly occurs in children who are aged 3 and below. It may occur at birth (congenital) and maybe associated with other syndromes and/or neurological conditions.
Juvenile idiopathic scoliosis is a rare type of scoliosis. It does not trigger pain or cause nerve dysfunction or breathing problems. However, most parents tend to be concerned about their child’s overall appearance.
Diagnosis of scoliosis
The scoliosis specialist will perform the Adam’s forward bend test to examine the presence of any deformities. The child will need to bend forward during the test so the specialist can measure and confirm the curve with the aid of an X-ray of the spine.
Scoliosis treatment methods
Treating scoliosis is of utmost importance. If the condition is left untreated, curves measuring over 50° may trigger long term problems, such as reduced lung capacity, which in turn leads to restrictive lung disease. The treatment type is dependent on the degree of the curve, the age of the child, and the time period left for the child to reach full skeletal maturity.
Observation: If the curve is mild, meaning it is less than 20°, or the child will soon reach skeletal maturity, regular check-ups with a scoliosis specialist every 3 to 6 months are enough.
Bracing: Bracing is a treatment method that prevents scoliotic curves from progressing. This treatment is effective for growing children with spinal curvature measuring between 25° and 45°.
Surgical treatment of scoliosis is recommended and performed in cases where the curve measures over 45° and for children who have attained skeletal maturity but have scoliotic curves exceeding 50° to 55°.
Surgical treatment uses an implant composed of rods, screws, hooks or wires that would straighten and correct the spinal curvature. Bone grafting may also be performed to the operated area of the spine to facilitate healing. Bone grafts can be acquired either from the patient’s hip region or from a bone bank.
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