Adolescent Scoliosis and Spine Surgery
If you or your pediatrician notice that your child’s shoulders are uneven, your child might have scoliosis. It’s a common diagnosis, affecting up to one in ten teenagers and young adults. Scoliosis is a twisting or bending of the spine which sometimes occurs during periods of rapid growth in adolescents.
Treatment for scoliosis rarely requires surgery, or even a brace, as long as the spinal changes are noticed and monitored in a timely manner. However, in cases where a spinal curve is especially exaggerated, bracing is considered the first line of correction. If you find that your child has missed the opportunity for observation or bracing during a rapid growth spurt, and the spinal curve is greater than 40 degrees, your pediatrician will likely recommend surgery.
Large spinal curves worsen over time, even if discovered after the spine is fully grown. Fortunately, modern surgery stops curves from worsening through the use of pedicle screws, which de-rotate the spine and reduce the prominence of curves. Additional benefits to modern spinal surgery are increased height and improved posture.
You can learn more about scoliosis by visiting the website for the Scoliosis Research Society, an organization of specialists committed to the research, understanding, and treatment of scoliosis.
The Doctor for You: Dr. James T. Bennett