Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine. Sometimes the curve is moderate, and barely visible, and sometimes the curve is so severe that it almost bends the spine in half. But of all the different curves they all have one thing in common: they all started out as mild curves, because scoliosis isn’t something you are born with, it’s something that begins as you grow.
What can you do to screen for scoliosis?
Most people with scoliosis are diagnosed around puberty. You or your child may have gone to the school nurse’s office, to have a visual back inspection. Most kids with curves that are visible to the naked eye get x-rays, to find out how intense the curve is. Problem is, small curves are invisible to the naked eye.
There are two types of parents: those who react once their children are already suffering with large curves, and those who are proactive in protecting their children from them. If you catch the small curve before it turns into a big curve, there is a lot more we can do to stop that big curve from ever happening! We support the screening of kids who don’t have visible curves…yet…but have some of the following warning signs.
Also, you cannot diagnose scoliosis accurately with a lying-down x-ray or a chest x-ray, because these both distort the spine in unpredictable ways. So if your child has a chest x-ray for a cold and the doctor says it looks like they may have scoliosis, request a real scoliosis screening x-ray for the most accurate results before jumping to conclusions. Request thoracic (mid-back) and lumbar (low back) x-rays be taken separately, as this is safer than a single full-body x-ray.
How do you know if you or your child should get screened for a small curve?
Watch for things like: Poor balance, tilting the head to the side, ears far in front of the shoulders when standing, one shoulder always higher, tendency to support the weight with one leg, uneven pants or skirt hems, uneven spaces between the arms and the side of the body, uneven walk, flat feet, very flexible (can bend fingers back past a right angle), frequent back, neck, or leg pain without injury, or a history of head or neck injuries like sports, car or riding accidents.
How do you know if that small scoliosis curve is going to get worse?
Scoliosis is somewhat genetic, but don’t feel like just because you have scoliosis your kids will be fated to have it, too. Often, that gene never gets switched on…there are even cases of identical twins where only one has scoliosis! But once that gene gets switched on and the spine starts to curve sideways there is actually a very reliable way to know the odds of it getting worse: Scoliscore genetic testing!
What can you do to protect yourself or your child from ending up with a really bad scoliosis curve?
For most of the last century, the typical kid diagnosed with scoliosis of 19 degrees or less was told to do nothing but wait for it to get worse. What an outrageous thought! Would a doctor tell an overweight person seeking weight loss advice “don’t do anything to get healthier now, wait until you become obese, then we can do a gastric bypass surgery to fix you.” Yet this has been the answer to parents of children with scoliosis for far too long.
Sadly, research shows just doing calisthenic exercises and trying to stand up straighter doesn’t improve scoliosis long-term. Chiropractic care alone might work for some but not for others, and is not always permanent. Posture correction has a much greater potential to have a significant, lasting effect on keeping that curve from getting out of control.
What do you do if you already have a big scoliosis curve?
Always explore your options before resorting to permanent surgery! There are multiple organizations around the world doing trials of scoliosis correction without bracing or surgery right now, and there is more hope every day. If you are near Tulsa, we can guide you in the correct direction to get help without permanent disfigurement, and support you until you find the right option for you, call us today to get started.