By Dr Tony Setiobudi BMedSci, MBBS, MRCS, MMed (Ortho), FRCS (Ortho)
80% of all scoliosis occur during adolescent. This type of scoliosis is called Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis. Sometimes, parents and doctors face challenges in treating teenagers. They are undergoing psychological changes to find their identity. They may refuse to accept that they have scoliosis. They may also refuse treatment. This can cause anxiety in the parents.
Here is the 5 things parents need to know about scoliosis.
- Scoliosis Needs Regular Follow-Up. Scoliosis tends to get worse as the child is growing. Regular follow up is required to monitor the progression of the scoliosis. When there is no more growth and the scoliosis is stable after serial X-rays, follow-up is no longer required.
- Scoliosis Get Worse but Cannot Get Better. But parents don’t need to be alarmed. No treatment modalities other than surgery can reduce the severity of scoliosis. It doesn’t mean that surgery needs to be done for all cases of scoliosis. Brace can be useful to slow down the progression of the scoliosis (not to reduce the severity). You need to be careful if someone promise they can do something to reduce the severity of scoliosis. It is safe to leave the mild scoliosis alone without specific treatment. Children can live normal lives with mild scoliosis.
- Scoliosis Is Not Caused by Heavy Schoolbag. The cause of Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis is unknown. Although carrying a heavy schoolbag is not good for the growing spine and can cause other problems, it is not the cause of scoliosis. Sporting activities, injury or wrong sitting posture also are not the cause of scoliosis.
- Not All Scoliosis Need Treatment. A very mild scoliosis in growing children or scoliosis that does not progress during adulthood does not need any specific treatment other than follow up. Only 30% of scoliosis need bracing and only 10% of scoliosis need surgery.
- If Surgery Needed, The Earlier The Better. Surgery is required for severe deformity. The risks of surgery increase with the degree of the severity of the curves. Therefore, it is best to do scoliosis surgery earlier than later if it is required.
Dr Tony Setiobudi is an Orthopaedic & Spine Surgeon at Mount Elizabeth Hospital (Orchard), Singapore. He treats bone, joint, muscle and ligament problems in adults and children. He has a special interest in nerve compression and spine problems such as back & neck pain, scoliosis, kyphosis, spine tumor & infection, spinal cord injury, osteoporosis fracture, spinal stenosis and slipped disc.