Your spine forms a curve between the cervical thoracic and lumbar region, which helps to distribute mechanical stress as you move. However, sometimes a curve can form at the frontal plane of your spine. Scoliosis affects an estimated 6 to 9 million individuals in the United States. It can develop in infancy or childhood or in adults with conditions such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy. Most children with scoliosis have a mild to moderate curve, which may worsen as they grow. A severe curve can lessen the space in the chest cavity, affecting the functioning of the lungs. Fortunately, the following treatment methods for Scoliosis in Sandy Springs can help straighten or prevent the curve from worsening.
What are the treatment approaches for scoliosis?
In the case of a confirmed scoliosis diagnosis, your doctor considers different factors to determine the treatment methods that best suits you. The following are the things your doctor assesses before recommending a particular treatment method.
- The extent of curvature and how it affects a patient’s quality of life
- Whether a patient’s spine is still growing.
- Curve location. Patients with curves at the thoracic region have the risk of curve progression.
- Possibility of curve progression.
Sometimes the curve is not so profound and, in such cases, requires no treatment. Mild curvature is more common in children than is in adults. However, if there are signs that the curve can increase, your specialist may call for routine examination every four to six months throughout a child’s adolescent stage. Adults usually need x-rays once in five years unless the symptoms worsen.
Braces prevent the curve from progressing and are only effective in children since they have not reached skeletal maturity most of the time. A specialist may recommend braces if a child has moderate scoliosis with a curve ranging between 25 to 40 degrees. Braces only prevent the curve from worsening and do not reverse the curve. Most of them are made out of plastic and provide a perfect fit for the body. They fit under the arms and not around the neck like traditional braces. Plastic braces are hardly noticeable beneath clothes and allow kids to participate in various activities with few restrictions. Children need to fully comply with wearing braces at least every 13 to 16 hours each day, but they can take off the brace to participate in other activities if necessary.
If your curve is severe, your doctor will recommend surgery to align the spine and prevent the curve from worsening. Examples of surgical options your specialist uses include:
- Spinal fusion. It involves joining two or more vertebrae using a bone-like piece of material. The spine is then held in place with screws, wires, or metal rods as the vertebrae and bone material fuse.
- Expanding rod. The procedure is used in children whose curve is rapidly progressing and uses expandable rods that are flexible to a child’s growth.
- Vertebral body tethering. For this process, the surgeon places screws along the abnormal spine curve and threads a flexible cord through the screws to straighten the spine. The curve lessens as the child grows.
When the curve progresses, scoliosis can affect your quality of life and alter your physical appearance. Consult with your doctor at Polaris Spine & Neurosurgery Center to discuss your treatment options.