Usually diagnosed in childhood, it can be scary to learn about a scoliosis diagnosis, and you may be thinking of the worst-case scenarios you’ve heard about. Fortunately, the majority of scoliosis cases won’t need surgical treatment and will, at most, need treatment with a brace or rehabilitative therapy.
Regardless, there are some things you need to know after diagnosis.
When it comes to determining how to handle scoliosis treatment, there are a few factors to consider. In addition to the severity of the curve, other considerations are sex, maturity of growth, and the location of the curve and curve pattern.
Remember the following when talking with your physician about treatment options:
- Females have a significantly higher risk of scoliosis progression than their male counterparts do.
- Larger curves, double curves, and curves in the middle section of the spine tend to worsen more rapidly than other curves and can have significant health impacts.
- A young child has a much higher risk of curve progression than an older child whose bones have stopped growing.
These factors can have a huge impact on the treatment option chosen by the orthopaedic specialist, and they should be considered when choosing the best treatment option for your situation.
In general, there are two treatment options for scoliosis: a brace or surgery. While these aren’t the only treatment options available, they’re the most common thanks to their high rates of success and convenience for busy families.
A brace can prevent further progression of the curvature in the spine but isn’t a cure to scoliosis. Depending on the severity of the curve at diagnosis, it may need to be worn at all times. The effectiveness of the brace does increase with use, but it can be taken off when necessary, such as for physical activities like sports.
Once the bones have stopped growing, the use of a brace is discontinued. Typically, this occurs about two years after puberty for females and when males need to shave regularly. Another indicator is when height stops changing.
Surgery is another option that’s used only in the most severe cases. Most surgeons don’t want to put children through surgery, but in the case of severe scoliosis, it’s sometimes the only option that will prevent the disease’s progression.
The most common surgery for scoliosis is called spinal fusion. In this surgery, two or more of the bones of the spine are connected and bone-like material is placed between the vertebrae to prevent movement.
Both treatment options are usually augmented with some type of physical therapy, a healthy diet to prevent becoming overweight, and regular exercise. Ultimately, the patient can live a mostly normal life.
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