What is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a condition that causes a sideways curvature in the spine in children. Most cases of scoliosis affect children during their fastest stages of growth, commonly during a growth spurt. However, Early Onset Scoliosis can occur in children 10 years or younger.
Most cases of scoliosis are relatively mild, only causing a select few symptoms. Most common symptoms are:
- Pain in the Back
- Visible Lean to one side or another
- Muscle Spasms
- Physical Deformity within the spine
- Uneven shoulders, waist, or hips
Despite few common symptoms, in certain severe cases scoliosis can become quite painful and debilitating. As children grow, if left untreated, scoliosis will cause difficulty walking, and impair much of their daily lives.
The most common method of scoliosis treatment in children is surgery. Scoliosis is currently incurable, however using certain measures such as physical therapy, bracing and surgery, it can be managed, and symptoms alleviated. Children with a severe curve in the spine, 45-50+ degrees, will require surgery. With surgical treatment the child’s spinal curve can be reduced significantly, with most cases ending in a curve reduction of under 25 degrees.
The most common procedure for scoliosis is spinal fusion. The surgeon will work to realign the abnormally curved vertebrae. Once proper alignment is reached, the vertebrae are then permanently fused together, healing together as one, single bone.
The degree of correction from surgery depends on how flexible your scoliosis is before your operation. In general, the more flexible your curve is, the better the correction from surgery. Your doctor can measure your flexibility before surgery with special x-rays called bending or traction films.
The surgery is invasive and will usually take about 4-8 hours. The major drawback of spinal fusion is that once it is done, the patient will stop growing. Therefore, it is a far better option for patients in their teens.
Another surgical option is through the use of growing rods. These rods are implanted into the spinal area, both correcting the curve while allowing the patient to continue their normal growth. These rods act as a type of guide for the spine to grow straighter as the years go by, in essence they are similar to internal braces.
If your child is suffering from scoliosis be sure to contact Dr. Widmann today and find out if scoliosis surgery is right for your child.