A slight amount of curvature in the spine is necessary for proper movement and balance. However, an excessive amount of curvature can be a sign of a problem, such as scoliosis. Children who are diagnosed with childhood scoliosis spines have a lateral curvature in the area of the spine that is normally straight. While this condition doesn't typically cause pain in children, when left untreated, as the child grows older the degree of their spine curvature can increase and cause a number of issues. Patients with childhood scoliosis are generally treated with a back brace or surgery.
For milder causes of childhood scoliosis, your orthopedist may recommend that your child wear a back brace. There are a number of different braces your child can wear, but one of the more common options is known as a Thoracic Lumbar Sacral Orthosis brace, or TLSO. This brace is popular because it can be worn underneath most clothing with minimal visibility, making your child more comfortable.
The goal of the brace is not to correct the problem, but rather prevent it from progressing. The brace reduces the rate at which the spine continues to curve, which can help your child avoid surgery or other issues with this condition as they get older. Additional styles of back braces include the Charleston Brace and the Wilmington Jacket. Your child's orthopedist will take into account the severity and location of their curve to determine which type of brace is best suited.
Surgical treatment for childhood scoliosis is generally only presented as an option when other methods have failed. For severe cases of scoliosis, a procedure known as a spine fusion is often performed. During a spine fusion, the surgeon separates the bones of the spine in the area where the curve is so that they grow into a solid bone over time. By fusing the bones together, this prevents them from curving.
In some instances, metal screws and rods are also used to keep the bones straight and help them fuse together faster. Since this is an invasive procedure, your child will need to rest and recover for a period after. During this period your child will have to remain home from school. Even after the child has returned to school, it could be a few months before they are able to engage in physical activities. However, it does provide a permanent solution.
Your child's physician will be able to tell you which treatment method is best for your child. Based on their overall health and the severity of the condition, your child's physician can put them on the right path. For more information, contact Town Center Orthopaedic Associates.