Pediatric scoliosis, which is diagnosed when a curvature of the spine is detected, affects approximately 2 to 3 perfect of school-aged kids. Depending on the severity of the curvature, some patients may need advanced treatment from a trusted facility like the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children (TSRHC). Learn more about this condition and what types of treatment are available to find out if you or your child should see a specialist for treatment.
What’s at Stake
In order to determine the best treatment, specialists consider the following factors regarding a patient’s scoliosis:
- Degree: How severe is the curve? Does it cause problems in the child’s daily life?
- Location: Is the curve located in the upper, middle, or lower spine?
- Maturity: How much growth is left in the child’s spine?
- Progression: What is the potential for progression? Has the child reached his or her adolescent growth spurt yet?
Keeping an Eye on Things
The first type of treatment for scoliosis is observation. This method is limited to milder cases of scoliosis. Typically, a curve of less than 20 degrees are regularly monitored by a doctor to determine if and how much progression is taking place. In these situations, advanced care from a specialized facility like TSRHC is not necessary. The observation can take place through routine clinical examinations and/or radiographic monitoring.
Bracing for the Future
For more severe curves of 25 to 45 degrees, braces (also known as orthoses) are often used to treat scoliosis. Scoliosis bracing can help to keep the curve from progressing, particularly during an adolescent growth spurt. Most braces are custom-made from special plastics to conform to the patient’s body. Depending on the patient’s condition, a brace may need to be worn for most of the day and night or only at night.
Scoliosis Surgical Treatment
For the most serious cases of scoliosis, specialists may recommend surgery to treat the condition. About 30 years ago, TSRHC researchers developed a surgical implant that eliminated the need for casts or braces after surgery. TSRHC released a revised version in 2005 that is smaller, easier to use, and more versatile, allowing for improved treatment of scoliosis. This method continues to be one of the most widely used surgical implants for spinal deformity. TSRHC has also recently started utilizing magnetic spinal rod systems that can be easily adjusted in minutes with no anesthesia, surgery, or recovery required.
What’s Next in Scoliosis Research
TSRHC continues to be at the top of the field when it comes to scoliosis research. In 2007, researchers at TSRHC identified the first gene linked to idiopathic scoliosis. Two other genes lending insight to this condition were also identified. With these discoveries, TSRHC may be able to ultimately find a genetic cause for scoliosis.
Being diagnosed with scoliosis doesn’t have to be scary for kids (or their parents). At TSRHC, patients can receive highly innovative scoliosis treatments from advanced specialists in the field.