The human body is magnificently structured with each organ, bone and system having a very specific purpose. When all works together as it should, the body is capable of incredible feats, but when even one single element is out of sorts, a myriad of problems can arise. This is particularly true in conditions that affect the spine.
The spine and its 33 individual vertebrae serve as scaffolding for the body, as well as a major information hub, sending nerve signals to and from the brain and all other parts of the body. Every movement made is the result of the spine doing its job, but when impacted by a condition such as scoliosis, each action can become increasingly difficult and painful. In severe cases or those left untreated, later complications to the lungs and heart may even result.
Diagnosing Scoliosis in Baton Rouge Children
In children with normal spine development, the back bone appears straight. However, in up to 3 percent of children (primarily teenage girls), the presence of scoliosis leads to a curvature in the spine that resembles an S or C shape. According to The Scoliosis Research Society, any such curvature measuring 10 degrees or more establishes a diagnosis of scoliosis.
Tests to determine if a child’s condition does in fact meet the requirements for diagnosis are relatively simple. These include physical examinations such as the Adam’s forward bend test and imaging tests such as x-rays, CT scans or MRI. Once this diagnosis has been reached, the most appropriate treatment options can begin to be explored. Based on factors such as a child’s age and overall health, as well as the extent and expected progression of the condition, one or more of the following three treatment options will be used:
Observation as Scoliosis Treatment
For children who are young and whose degree of curvature is considered mild (less than 25 degrees), treatment will likely begin with regular observation and examination. How greatly the curve progresses and which, if any, follow-up treatments are needed will depend on the amount of skeletal growth until puberty, when curvature slows or stops entirely.
Bracing as Scoliosis Treatment
In cases where more skeletal growth is to come and the curvature of the spine exceeds 25 degrees, bracing is the likely next step. These braces are rigid and designed to help impede continued curving of the spine. There are several types of scoliosis braces, but all fall into one of two main categories: full-time and nighttime. Which particular type of brace is recommended depends largely on both the physician and patient. However, many physicians select full-time bracing in the case of double curves or curvatures that exceed 35 degrees.
Surgical Intervention for Scoliosis
In severe cases of scoliosis where the curve exceeds 45 degrees and bracing has not been effective, surgical intervention may be necessary to decrease the severity of the curve and to prevent it from worsening. During the surgery, the curved vertebrae of the spine are realigned and fused together with the use of bone grafts and metal rods. As the spine heals, these vertebrae will gradually heal into one solid bone. While the degree to which the curvature can be safely corrected will vary from one patient to the next, the majority of those undergoing spinal fusion will be left with a spinal curve that is less than 25 degrees and that is largely unnoticeable.
If your child has been diagnosed with scoliosis or if you suspect that they may have the condition, contact Bone and Joint Clinic of Baton Rouge, and request a consultation with Dr. Michael Frierson. Dr. Frierson has has the experience to diagnose and treat pediatric scoliosis in Baton Rouge and has been board-certified in orthopedic surgery since 1996 and is a well-respected specialist in the fields of pediatric orthopedics and scoliosis treatment. Together, you can discuss your concerns, your child’s condition and symptoms, and develop the most effective, specialized treatment plan possible.