The human spine has a natural curve that can be seen when looking at it from the side. Sometimes, however, the spine develops an unnatural curve in which it is bent forward, backward or to the side which results in an “S” or “C” shape.
This unnatural curvature is known as scoliosis, and it often develops in children. In fact, three out of 100 people develop the condition. Irregular curvature of the spine may be a result of problems somewhere else in the body or when bones in the spine fail to form completely or separate from each other.
In most cases, the cause of scoliosis is unknown; this type is known as idiopathic scoliosis and early diagnosis in children can often be managed and treated before it becomes a lifelong, debilitating problem. Managing scoliosis includes observation, bracing and surgery. Because the spine is such an integral part of a well-functioning human body, it is important to address scoliosis as soon as it is discovered.
Scoliosis is more common in girls than boys and is often first noticed by a family member who is familiar with the way a child’s body looks and moves. The head may appear off-center or one hip or shoulder might look higher than the other. In more severe cases of scoliosis, a person may have shortness of breath and chest pain. For the most part, however, scoliosis is not painful and can be easily detected with the help of a medical practitioner or chiropractor.
Early diagnosis in children is important because as they continue to grow, there is a chance that scoliosis may worsen over time. For children with idiopathic scoliosis, treatment depends on the age when it develops. If scoliosis develops in children under three years old, in most cases, the condition will improve without any treatment.
For children who develop the condition between the ages of three and ten, there is a higher risk that it may get worse because these children are in their prime years for growth. During this time period, the goal is to keep the curvature in the spine from getting worse until the child stops growing.
The most common type of scoliosis develops in children after the age of ten. Treatment for scoliosis at this stage of life depends on the severity of curve. Braces are effective to keep any spine curvature from getting worse and don’t actually treat scoliosis. Only once a child has stopped growing will it be possible to tell if his or her scoliosis can be managed as is or needs to be treated with surgery.
Don’t wait to have your children checked for scoliosis. May is National Correct Posture Month, and in celebration, The Specific Chiropractic Center is offering free scoliosis screenings throughout the entire month. Stop in to have your children screened today.
Eck, Jason C., DO, MS. Scoliosis. MedicineNet.com. Retrieved May 2, 2010 from http://www.medicinenet.com/scoliosis/article.htm.
What is Scoliosis? KidsHealth.org. (June 2009) Retrieved May 2, 2010 from http://kidshealth.org/kid/health_problems/bone/scolio.html#.
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