A childhood scoliosis diagnosis is not the fear-inducing event it once was. The medical community has worked overtime to develop new ways of treating the condition in recent decades. Children with scoliosis these days enjoy overwhelmingly positive outcomes.
Most children with scoliosis don’t experience severe spinal curvatures. If your child has a curvature of 25% or less, there are many ways to treat it, using non-invasive therapies.
But it’s a balancing act when it comes to treating these mild curvatures. Doctors must assess the development of the child and the potential for future growth, in concert with assessing the curvature’s potential for increasing in acuity and curve progression at diagnosis.
This post will explore how to treat your child’s mild scoliosis to render the best possible results.
The Risser sign
The Risser sign is the medically-accepted benchmark for assessing a curvature’s potential to increase. By analyzing X-rays of the spinal curve, the iliac crest (hip bone’s upper edge) is rated on a scale of 0 to 5 in terms of how much growth is projected to occur.
At a 4 or 5 Risser grade, little skeletal growth is projected is expected. A lower grade than that indicates that the child’s skeleton is still growing, meaning the curvature continues to have the potential to increase.
The Risser sign is a potent tool in assessing the projected curvature growth. From this information, doctors can assess treatment options best suited to the child’s stage of physical development.
For children with mild scoliosis, observation is the first line of treatment. By measuring it every 4 to 6 months, doctors can gauge whether further intervention is required.
When the curvature is at 25% or less, it’s usually the case that observation of curve progression is sufficient in terms of treatment. When changes are seen, other options may be deployed.
Should a mild curvature be seen to progress at a rate of more than 5% in the period between X-rays, bracing may be suggested as a means of slowing curve progress. When worn as prescribed, this is an effective treatment option to use until the child’s skeletal growth stops.
While there’s some disagreement between clinicians about when to brace, these are general clinical guidelines.
The challenges of bracing
Parents of adolescents with mild scoliosis may have a bit of a challenge when it comes to getting their child to wear the brace for the prescribed durations. Braces are worn for most of the day. They can be uncomfortable.
There’s also the social stigma associated with bracing to contend with, especially concerning image-conscious adolescents. It can be tough to get them to co-operate.
But working with your doctor, it’s possible to identify a strategy whereby the brace is worn when it’s least important to your child.
Sleeping with the brace removes the problem of social impact. It may also be possible to work around activities that might reveal to peers that the brace is being worn, like during sports activities.
Does your child have mild scoliosis? Contact us.