Your pediatrician informs you that your infant shows signs of a slight curve in their spine. Currently, it's not causing health problems, but a small curve now can result in major health issues later. Here is what you need to know about scoliosis, how it can affect your child's health and the current treatment options for correcting it.
Spinal Curvature in the Developing Child
Prior to puberty, your child's bones are rapidly growing into the structures that will support them throughout the rest of their lives. At puberty, bone growth slows down until it reaches the adult levels of production to sustain the skeleton. Spinal curvature is caused by the bones in the spine developing a wedge shape. A small curvature can quickly become severe during this rapid growth phase of childhood.
Scoliosis and Your Child's Health
If left untreated, the curve can become so severe that it limits the space in the chest cavity for other organs to develop properly. The lungs may not be able to expand normally resulting in respiratory issues that can continue into your child's adult life. The misalignment of the spine puts stress on your child's shoulder, back and hip areas. This can result in back pain throughout your child's life.
Early Treatment Gives the Best Results
When you get your child treated during the years of rapid bone development, they have the best chance of forming a straighter spine. Your child will have less risk of health issues due to the curvature and the problems won't follow them into their adult lives. Early treatment also allows the spine to grow out straight without the need for lifelong support to keep it straight.
Treatment Options for Scoliosis
Early treatment also means that non-invasive approaches to treating the curvature are more likely to work and that surgery won't be necessary. Two types of braces can be used to straighten the spine in your infant:
- Thoraco-Sacral Brace - This is also called the Boston brace and is used to treat curves in the middle to lower parts of the spine. This is typically a two part plastic brace that surrounds your child's body and extends from under their arms to the top of their hips. The brace puts pressure on the spine opposite that of the curve to encourage the bones to grow in a straight pattern.
- Cervico-Sacral Brace - This is also called the Milwaukee brace and is used to treat curves in the upper portion of the spine. It extends from the top of the hips to under the chin to hold the upper part of the spine secure during growth.
Both of these braces must be worn throughout the rapid bone growth period, prior to puberty, to make sure the spine grows in straight. In many cases, the braces won't be needed after puberty. But in some instances, your doctor may recommend that your child continues wearing the brace at night up until their early adult years. Visit a clinic like C D Denison if you have questions about scoliosis.