What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine bends to the side, either to the right or left side. The curvature can be moderate to severe. Any part of the spine can be bent in scoliosis.

The majority of children with scoliosis require no treatment, as the condition resolves on its own as the child grows. Those who do require treatment maybe put into a back brace, which is usually effective. A very small number of patients with scoliosis may require surgery. If left untreated, the condition can lead to serious spine problems and damage to other organs in your body.

I wore a Boston Brace for six years before having my spinal surgery. I was in the brace 24 hours a day only taking it off for a shower.

How is Scoliosis diagnosed?
If suspect your child or member of your family has scoliosis make an appointment with your family doctor. The doctor will examine the height of the hips, look at the spine, height of the shoulders and may ask you to go for an x-ray of the spine. The x-ray will confirm the diagnosis of the scoliosis, as well at the shape and direction of the curve. If you are in pain your doctor may also send you for an MRI scan of the spine. I had a number of MRI scans for my scoliosis, in my situation it was found that I had a number of tumours on my spine and they were pushing my spine to one side. Please don't worry if you are sent for a scan, not everyone with scoliosis has the tumours on the spine.

Some signs and Symptoms of Scoliosis:

  • Shoulders may not be of the same height, one shoulder is higher than the other.

  • One hip is more prominent than the other.

  • Clothes do not hang properly.

  • The person may lean to one side.

  • Back pain.

What is the treatment for Scoliosis?

Most children with scoliosis have a mild curve and don't always need treatment, the doctor would arrange to see your child every few months so that he/she can keep an eye on how the child is doing. But in some cases the doctor may decide to brace the child, this will help prevent further curvature, but it will not be a cure for the scoliosis. The brace is worn 24 hours a day and may take your child sometime to get use to it. I managed to wear my brace 24 hours a day within 3 days of getting the brace. I did have to have regular cast changes as I grown.

Scoliosis Surgery (spinal fusion)
If the scoliosis progresses your doctor may advice that your child has a his/her spine fused. Spinal fusion surgery will reduce the spinal curve and stop it from getting worse. Metal rods, hooks, and screws are used to hold the spine straight while the bones heal.

The operation takes about 8 hours and after the surgery the child will spend 24/48 hours in the intensive care unit, normally the child will be hospital about a week to 10 days. I was one of the unlucky ones and was in hospital 3 months as I was very poorly after surgery. I had to have two 8 hour operations due to the tumours on my spine causing some problems. The child may be off school for about 6 weeks but will not be able to take part in sport for a further 6 to 8 months. I never got away with doing my school work as my school sent me an home tutor 3 times a week for an hour each time. I was very tired after my surgery so any more than that I would not of managed and when I did go back to school I only went back part time for the first few months.

Some younger children may have growing rods put in and will have to return to the hospital every six months to have them lengthened, this procedure is usually just an overnight stay for the child. When the spine as fully grown the rods will be removed.

There is a lot of risk involved in spinal fusion surgery and the doctor will only recommend spinal fusion if the benefits of it are thought to outweigh the risk involved from having the surgery.

I still get a lot of back pain and spine has curved above the point of the rods, I still wear a back brace when the pain is really bad as the pain is so bad sometimes that the tablets have not helped.