Scoliosis is an abnormal spine condition most often found in young people when the curvature of the spine is sideways instead of straight. It’s often found in those with cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy. The cause of the condition is unknown. Most of the spinal conditions are mild compared to other spinal issues. However, some curves worsen as the child grows.
If your child has recently been diagnosed with scoliosis, the next important step is finding the right doctor to treat it.
What Happens When A Child Is Diagnosed With Scoliosis?
The first step is usually a trip to their pediatrician. The doctor will perform a few initial, non-invasive exams on the child. They may ask the child to bend at the waist to check the curvature of the spine.
The doctor does this with medical equipment such as a scoliometer to determine the spine's rotation. If rotation of the spine is minimal, some doctors will continue to monitor the spine, others may recommend additional diagnostic X-rays.
If you notice your child’s condition worsening or impeding their daily activities, inform your doctor. If they don’t take the necessary action you’re seeking, get a second opinion.
Children with a more significant curvature will be referred for more X-rays to determine the Cobb angle measurement. If the doctor diagnoses scoliosis, the next step is a referral to a spinal surgeon specializing in the condition.
Surgeons Specializing in Scoliosis
Surgeons specializing in scoliosis are spinal doctors or surgeons who treat scoliosis, which has been the case since 1911. Don't let the word surgeon scare you. If your child has a mild case of scoliosis, there is usually no need for surgery.
The spinal surgeon is the kind of doctor that treats scoliosis because they are educated and experienced in working with spine and spinal injuries and conditions. If your child has a severe case of scoliosis, the spinal surgeon is the right doctor to perform the surgery.
Spinal surgeons follow the strict guidelines by the Scoliosis Research Society (SRS) when treating this condition. These guidelines are determined based on a child's Cobb angle and growth stage.
What Kind of Doctor Treats Scoliosis
Any general doctor can treat the condition, but a specialist who's certified and trained in scoliosis has a more detailed understanding of how to treat the person and not just the condition.
Be sure you find the right doctor to treat the patient and the condition, not just the patient or the symptoms. Search for a doctor with comprehensive understanding of various non-invasive measures to treat scoliosis. Don't stick with one doctor or one specialist who focuses on one kind of treatment.
Search for a doctor that can use multiple treatments or therapies for the best results.
Ask your doctor how qualified they are to treat scoliosis. If they aren't, don't be afraid to find one who is.
Treatment for Scoliosis
Unless the child’s curvature is significant after an initial diagnosis, the first treatment method is simply for the doctor to monitor the curvature. If the curvature continues, the next step is a brace. The final step, if the curvature worsens, is surgery.
Treatment of Scoliosis happens in three categories. The first one is known as the “Watch and Wait” category. The Cobb angle determines the spine curvature is between 20-25 degrees, which is considered a mild case of scoliosis.
The second category determines moderate scoliosis to be between 25-45 degrees based on the Cobb angle. The third category is for the most serious cases where the curvature of the spine is determined to be between 45-50 degrees or more.
Although some parents will agree with these basic guidelines, other parents will want doctors to perform a more personalized assessment of their child's condition and long-term progression.
Another thing parents need to be aware of is the equipment used. Many doctors use antiquated braces that are heavy, bulky, and can be awkward and uncomfortable for the child. The problem is the equipment or the braces focus on preventing the spine from progressively curving rather than making the patient comfortable and patient-friendly.
One thing to remember is that the SRS guidelines don't provide any proactive treatment, that may be because there isn't one.
If the child's scoliosis worsens, surgery is highly recommended. As mentioned before, the worsening of the curvature of the spine can impede the proper function of the lungs, which can cause serious problems.
Many parents will agree with the spinal surgery doctor. The type of surgery performed is called spinal fusion surgery, the typical or traditional surgery performed for scoliosis. It will be up to the parents whether they want their child to have this surgery, which can come with complications and risks, including the possibility of additional surgeries.
The surgery subjects the child to rods, wires, and screws to hold the spine in place, which treats the symptom (the curvature) and not scoliosis itself. There are also the emotional and psychological effects of knowing you have hardware in your back. Parents may be concerned that they may break a rod or damage the hardware.
The positive side of surgery is that it frees the child from being burdened with out-of-date braces and a curved spine that impedes their lungs. These issues may not bother some children or their parents, so it's important for the parent to discuss these options and what they entail with their child.
Many doctors and parents do not want their patients and children to endure the negative effects of surgery, and prefer less invasive, less dangerous, and less costly treatment measures available.
One of those treatment measures is chiropractic treatment. Parents seeking additional treatments that are less invasive, may consider chiropractic care along with other therapeutic treatments.
The goal of chiropractic treatment for scoliosis is to reduce the risk of the condition through more aggressive and proactive monitoring by treating the condition, instead of the symptoms.
Chiropractors are specialized and experienced in spinal treatment, specifically scoliosis.
Although there is no cure, a scoliosis-specific chiropractor works to treat the condition instead of managing the symptoms, which focuses on the progressive nature by slowing or even reversing the condition.
Chiropractic-scoliosis treatment is not a one-size-fits-all approach, but designed with the individual patient in mind. Some of the most successful treatment plans include rehabilitation, specific exercises focusing on the condition, and corrective bracing based on the patient's condition, needs, and abilities.
Chiropractors who work with scoliosis patients have seen curvature reduction in two weeks. Patients have fewer mobility problems and restrictions compared to surgery.
For adults with scoliosis, the outcome of successful surgery is usually less than it is for children. Adults with scoliosis can also choose chiropractic treatment, epidural injections, physical therapy, or pain medications as opposed to surgery which is not very successful.
- Chiropractic rehabilitation, diagnosis, and treatment of scoliosis.
- Here is a list of additional certifications.
- ISICO - Italian Scientific Spine Institute
- SOSORT - Society on Scoliosis Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Treatment
- SEAS - Scientific Exercises Approach to Scoliosis
- ScoliBrace certification in corrective 3D bracing
- Pettibon system certification
- GOSS: the Gomez Orthotic Spine System
- The more certifications and education a doctor has, the more qualified they are to perform exceptional treatment and multiple forms of treatment for the patient based on their individual needs.
Severe scoliosis can cause serious disability and health risks. The curve can be so distorted that it causes a reduced amount of space in the chest, causing difficulty in the functioning of the lungs.
In mild cases, children are closely monitored by using X-rays and other methods to ensure the curve is not getting worse. No treatments are necessary when scoliosis is mild. Doctors may require the use of a brace to keep the curve from worsening.
In severe cases, surgery is often required to straighten out the curves and help the lungs function properly.
Whatever doctor you choose to treat this condition, be sure to find the right doctor to treat it. The doctor you choose will depend on the type of treatment needed.