What is scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a disease in which the spine
curves to one side. It usually develops during the years when teens are going through a growth spurt. Scoliosis is much more common in girls than boys. back to top
How do you get scoliosis?
No one knows what causes scoliosis or why it's so much more common in girls than boys. Genetics
may have something to do with it, because scoliosis seems to run in families. back to top
What are the symptoms of scoliosis?
The major symptom of scoliosis is an abnormal curve of the upper spine, usually toward the right side. A girl who has scoliosis will usually notice her spine starting to curve during puberty
, at the beginning of the growth spurt. The curve tends to get worse over time. back to top
How can I find out if I have scoliosis?
Each year at your check up, your health professional should examine your back. First, he or she will look at your back while you are standing upright. Then you'll be asked to bend over and hang your arms down. If you have an abnormal curve in your spine, your health professional will measure it to see how severe it is. You may also need an X ray
of your back to get more accurate information. back to top
How can I treat scoliosis?
If you have a mild curve, you may not need any treatment. If a curve is noticed at the beginning of your growth spurt, you should see your health professional often over the next year to be sure that the curve isn't getting worse. You might be given back exercises to do to help keep it from getting worse.
If you have a larger curve, or if a small curve appears to be getting larger very quickly, your health professional will send you to an orthopedic surgeon. Orthopedic surgeons are specialists in bone diseases. Although they are surgeons, they don't always recommend surgery.
If you have a moderate curve, the orthopedic surgeon may recommend special back exercises or a back brace. The back brace must be worn 22 to 23 hours a day to hold your spine in the proper position while it grows. You can continue all your normal activities including sports, except contact sports and trampoline exercises. You can even swim as long as you put your brace on again as soon as you get out of the water.
Only girls who have severe abnormal curves will need back surgery to correct the curve. These girls will still need to wear a back brace for 6 months or more after surgery to be sure that the spine continues to grow straight. back to top
Do I really need to see a health professional to treat scoliosis?
It's important to see your health professional if you have moderate to severe scoliosis. He or she can figure out what type of treatment is best. Regular exercises, diet, vitamins, and chiropractic treatment will not help scoliosis. In fact, the curve will probably get worse over time. You should never ignore scoliosis, because it can lead to severe abnormalities of the spine, and cause breathing problems by squeezing your lungs. back to top
What happens if I don't get treated for scoliosis?
If severe scoliosis is not treated, you can have more serious problems. Many girls have back pain and they can develop arthritis in the spine or a "hunchback" bump in their upper back. If the curve is severe, it may compress the organs inside the chest. This will make it hard to draw in a full breath and may cause other lung
problems. back to top