Around 8 million people in the United States are affected by scoliosis, a condition that causes a sideways curve in your spine. Children ages 10-15 have the greatest risk of developing this disorder.
If scoliosis worsens without treatment it can cause many health problems. Early diagnosis plays a big part in successful treatment. That’s why you should have your child checked regularly at Dr. Louis Keppler & Associates.
What causes scoliosis
Birth defects and neuromuscular conditions like cerebral palsy can cause scoliosis. About 80 percent of cases, however, don’t have a specific cause. This is known as idiopathic scoliosis. It’s more common in children ages 10 and up.
Girls are more likely to need treatment from progressing scoliosis — eight times more likely, according to the National Scoliosis Foundation.
Signs and symptoms
Scoliosis may not cause pain, but there are noticeable symptoms, such as:
- Uneven waist
- Uneven shoulders (one shoulder may stick out farther)
- Head appears off-center
- One hip sits higher than the other
- Noticeable lean to one side
By age 10, most children don’t need help with bathing or getting dressed. For this reason, you may not know your child has scoliosis. We recommend having them visit Dr. Keppler for regular checkups to diagnose and treat it early.
Why early diagnosis is important
Catching scoliosis early is critical for treatment because growth can make it worse. Children go through a growth spurt right before puberty, and this growth spurt can increase the curvature from scoliosis.
A bigger curve often causes pain and it might cause long-term problems as well. This can be prevented if the condition is monitored and intervention starts early. Back braces, for example, are successful at preventing scoliosis from worsening.
A back brace can help keep your child’s spine properly aligned as they grow. Dr. Keppler might recommend fitting your child with a back brace if the curvature exceeds 25 degrees.
Complications of scoliosis
Both mild and severe scoliosis can cause health problems. Severe curvatures can press the ribs into the heart and lungs. If this occurs, your child may have a difficult time breathing and their heart can be damaged.
Scoliosis during childhood also increases the risk of chronic back pain in adulthood. Another complication of scoliosis is worsening symptoms. The hard-to-see signs that develop early on can become more prominent as the scoliosis worsens, which can affect your child’s appearance and self-esteem.
Sometimes, scoliosis can reach a 45-degree curve. Dr. Keppler may perform surgery to reduce the curvature, in which he straightens and fuses the spine to less than 25 degrees. Scoliosis surgery has fewer risks and less pain if it’s done in childhood.
When to have your child checked
We recommend having your child screened for scoliosis after their 10th birthday. Even if they show no signs of scoliosis, their spine may gradually shift as they grow.
To learn more, call our Independence, Ohio, office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Keppler.