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Understanding Scoliosis in your Child

Your child has had their annual check-up with their pediatrician or school nurse, and you’ve been told that your child has a curve in their spine. Maybe small, maybe larger, but they’ve put you in the “watch and wait” category.

Here’s what you should know:

Doctors classify scoliosis into 2 main categories:

1. Structural Scoliosis

2. Functional Scoliosis

A structural scoliosis is also called Idiopathic Scoliosis. This means we’re not sure the cause of it, but it’s present and is often progressive. A 3 or 6-month check-up, which is the typical recommendation, will often show some progression of the curve, particularly if your child is entering puberty. It will tend to get worse as your child grows. This can be due to hormones, muscles imbalances, or genetics. When a scoliosis is structural, it’s usually not curable, though some can be managed into adulthood with few complications. Treating scoliosis while your child is still in adolescence is incredibly important! Some structural scoliosis can degrade into severe curves and should be watched, managed, and treated with your medical doctor.

The other form of scoliosis is functional, meaning, it’s been caused by muscle or joint function imbalances, often due to injuries your child has sustained, even if you don’t have a specific injury in mind. It could be sports falls that hurt a little more than they should have, that sprained ankle that took a few weeks or months to heal causing unnoticed pelvic and then spine imbalance or simply sitting too long in weird positions!

This type of scoliosis is reversible, especially when identified early!

It can be hard to know in the beginning whether a scoliosis is structural or functional, especially when curve is still mild to moderate. But there are some indicators that can suggest one or the other during their physical exam. Regardless, a curve in the spine of your child can and should be treated.

But here is the bottom line: if your child has a curve in their spine, it’s disadvantaging them in so many ways and should be treated. The spine houses the spinal cord, which is connected directly to the brain. Duh, right? Well research indicates that curves in the spine can disrupt nerve impulses coming to and from the brain, which can cause pain, structural dysfunction, organ dysfunction, and impaired cognition. It could even reduce your child’s ability to perform the best they could be in school.

If the curve is functional, which is MOST curves, it should come right out! In my experience, and the work I do in my chiropractic office, it takes about 8-10 treatments! Afterwards, as long as there is nothing directly to treat, a quarterly follow-up to check in is usually all that’s needed.

I hope this information is useful and we would be happy to do offer a complimentary consult call with Dr. Andrle, or jump right into evaluation and treatment of your child! Dr. Andrle will also happily co-manage any scoliosis case with your primary care doctor or pediatrician.

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