Being a teen has never been easy. Between navigating social relationships and juggling school and jobs, teens are plenty busy. But what if they come to you with complaints about back pain, or you notice that their posture seems “off”?
These and other signs may point to adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, a spinal curvature deformity that typically emerges in the pre-teen and teen years. In fact, it’s a diagnosis that 2-3% of the nation’s kids receive.
Fortunately, the Advanced Spine and Pain clinical team has deep knowledge and plenty of experience diagnosing, treating, and correcting scoliosis in teens.
Our approach is to partner with parents and their teens in creating a treatment plan that results in freedom from pain — which affects 63% of adolescent scoliosis patients — and increased mobility, something all teens naturally prize.
What Scoliosis Looks and Sounds Like in Teens
Since there’s a significant growth spurt during adolescence, this is when scoliosis often develops. Symptoms that you can see include:
- Visible unevenness in shoulder height
- Hip and waist asymmetry
- One leg appears longer than the other
- A noticeable hump on the ribs
- Compromised ability to bend and twist
- An overall uneven body posture
Spinal curvature in teens can range from mild to severe, and when your doctor looks at imaging, they generally observe either an“S- or C-shaped curve in the spine.
Additional tell-tale signs of scoliosis are if your teen complains about their clothing not fitting quite properly, and any talk of back pain. Since the degree of spinal curvature can vary so greatly from patient to patient, your teen may have very subtle curvature and no complaints about discomfort, or the curvature may be quite obvious and accompanied by pain.
They mystery of scoliosis
Unfortunately, the causes of scoliosis remain elusive (idiopathic indicates that causes are unknown), though researchers continue to try to understand why the condition develops. It’s thought that both genetic and environmental factors play roles in its progression.
Treatment for adolescent scoliosis is vital
The negative snowball effect of worsening spinal curvature involves more than pain, too. It can lead to:
- The spine turning inward
- Trouble breathing
- Injury to the heart and lungs, due to compression by the ribs
Though both girls and boys are at similar risk for being diagnosed with scoliosis, unfortunately girls end up suffering from more significant spinal curvature and thus require treatment in more instances.
What are my teen’s treatment options?
Fortunately, your teen’s doctor is able to offer a range of treatments depending on your child’s symptoms. Options include:
- Monitoring (no intervention is necessary when scoliosis is mild)
- A back brace (appropriate for mild scoliosis)
- Minimally invasive surgery
With bracing, our team recommends which type of brace is best for your teen, how often they should wear it, and for how long.
The surgical solution that your Advanced Spine and Pain doctor performs involves placing metal implants along your teen’s spine to stabilize it and enable vertebral shifting.
Parents are naturally concerned when surgery is mentioned for their child, but this procedure is minimally invasive, meaning that we make just a few very small incisions for the purpose of placing the implant.
This type of procedure is very different from traditional surgery and results in more rapid healing, less scarring, and significantly less pain. Our team is with you and your teen every step of the way, from pre-surgery conversations to offering recovery guidance.
We know that scoliosis not only affects your teen’s comfort and posture, it’s also connected to decreased self-esteem. This is why it’s best to seek a medical evaluation and treatment if you suspect your teen has scoliosis.
Proper care by our team ensures that your teen enjoys greater comfort, better strength and balance, and increased confidence. It also provides you with priceless peace of mind.
Call the Advanced Spine and Pain office that’s most convenient to you and schedule a scoliosis consultation for your teen today, or book one with us online.