Scoliosis is an abnormal side-to-side curvature of the spine that causes it to form more of an "S" or "C" shape rather than a straight line. Scoliosis usually occurs during the growth spurt just before puberty.
Angela Doctor is a registered nurse and the Scoliosis Screening Coordinator for Children's of Alabama. In 1984, the state of Alabama mandated that all public school students between the ages of 11 and 14 be screened for scoliosis.
"The importance of scoliosis screening is early detection," Doctor said. "Children are doing a lot of growing during the adolescent period, so our goal is to halt the progression of scoliosis."
Types of Scoliosis
Doctor says there are three types of scoliosis. The most common is adolescent idiopathic, of which the cause is unknown. But scoliosis can be congenital, caused by a defect at birth or due to a neuromuscular disease like cerebral palsy.
For most children, scoliosis is not a life-altering condition. Some may require ongoing monitoring. However, if a curve worsens over time, it could eventually lead to potential health issues. In the case that an orthopedic specialist determines treatment is necessary, the options include a back brace to halt the deformity or spinal surgery.
Parents may wonder if their child has scoliosis. Doctor says signs to look for include:
- Uneven shoulders/shoulder blades
- Uneven waist/hips
- One side of the back is higher than the other when bending forward
If a parent suspects their child may have scoliosis, they should see their pediatrician. He or she may refer the child to an orthopedic specialist to confirm a diagnosis and decide whether treatment is necessary.
When treatment is over, people with scoliosis are able to live full and active lives.The key is identifying the condition as early as possible while the spine is still growing.