A curve-ball: Scoliosis Awareness Month

Posted on June 21, 2017 by kerri
“So you have a bit of scoliosis, eh?” My first lung specialist threw this at me during an appointment as he listened to me breathe (and yes, if you noticed the “eh”, I’m Canadian!)
The reality is, I think my spine is just compensating for my legs being different lengths, however, I suppose it’s possible this might classify as “a bit of scoliosis”—although nobody else has ever mentioned it! With that said, I guess I’m long overdue to learn a bit more about scoliosis—or, abnormal spine curvature.
What is scoliosis?
Scoliosis is an abnormal curve of the spine to the right or left (a lateral curve). It can begin as being mild but if not monitored and treated when it becomes more prominent, it can become severe and impact a person’s life and movement. Fortunately, scoliosis is treatable. [1]
Scoliosis usually becomes apparent in childhood or around puberty. [1]
How is scoliosis treated?
Scoliosis may be treated with exercises or wearing a brace to straighten the spine’s curve. Most braces are totally invisible under clothing so you may not even know someone is wearing one unless they tell you! Scoliosis may also require surgery to treat, or require both surgery and a brace. [1] A brace may be used for children and teens, and will be no longer needed once they stop growing. [1]
Why is scoliosis awareness important?
According to the Mayo Clinic, children’s teammates or peers may be the first to notice the child’s shoulders are uneven or their spine is curved, such as in the locker room. [1] If parents are aware of scoliosis, especially as it may have the tendency to be hereditary, they may be able to more quickly report any spine abnormalities they notice to the child’s doctor. [1] If untreated, scoliosis—especially that which is severe–may lead to lung or heart problems, back problems, increased risk of injury—issues may also be aesthetic, or simply appearance related, which can be difficult for adolescents to deal with. [1]
Is a medical ID bracelet necessary for scoliosis?
If a child has scoliosis caused by a neuromuscular condition like cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy, congenital bone or spine issues, or injury or infection of the spine [1], their medical history may make wearing a scoliosis medical ID bracelet or necklace necessary.
Given that I was monitored by an orthopedic surgeon from birth through age 14, I don’t believe it’s likely I have true scoliosis—or at least, I don’t believe I would have undetected scoliosis that would have gone beyond a mild curve caused by my uneven hips and orthopedic issues that wouldn’t have required treatment anyways. However, it’s good to know that many medical professionals are on the lookout for abnormal spine curves or other signs of scoliosis. Pediatricians, public health nurses, physical therapists, and sports medicine physicians may all be good individuals to check with if you are concerned about scoliosis.

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