Scoliosis in Children: 6 signs to watch for

Scoliosis in children happens more often than you think. Most commonly found in pre-adolescents and adolescents during a child’s growth years, 80% of the scoliosis  is identified as Idiopathic Scoliosis (I.S.) – most commonly presented in children between the ages of 10-12 years old.

So what is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a distortion of the spine in more than one area, causing the spine to curve side-to-side with a difference of 20 degrees or more. A child with scoliosis may have a spine that is shaped like an S or a C when viewed from behind- affecting the middle (thoracic) and/or lower (lumbar) spine. 

Although Scoliosis can be caused by birth defects, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy or idiopathically (which literally means unknown cause) to name a few, it can also be a consequence of Functional Scoliosis which is due to muscular imbalance that compensates for biomechanical asymmetry or are the result of muscle spasm.

Suspect that your child may have scoliosis?

Let’s look at the 6 signs to watch out for to determine if your child has scoliosis:

  1. The difference in shoulder heights.
  2. The difference in shoulder blade heights.
  3. The difference in hip height/position (Uneven waistline).
  4. The difference in the way the arms hang beside the body when the child is standing straight.
  5. The difference in the height of the sides (back view) when the child bends forward (Adam’s test).
  6. Where the head is not centered compared to the rest of the body.

What happens if scoliosis is not identified and treated in your child’s growing years?

Finding out the scoliosis condition early is key for treatment and management. If left untreated, apart from cosmetic deformity, scoliosis can interfere with your child’s growth and development as well as causing problems to the heart, lungs and kidney functions.

It also increases the risk of developing spinal problems such as back pain or rib cage pain later on in their life as scoliosis can contribute to uneven weight distribution, increasing more stress to our spinal joints and hence leading to early degenerative changes.

Scoliosis may be managed within given ranges – depending on age, tendency to progress and patient/ parent choice. Therefore, a child needs to be assessed and diagnosed before his/her growth spurt and throughout their puberty. Nevertheless, scoliosis is a very manageable condition IF diagnosed early. 

“Does my child have scoliosis?” – What to do next?

As most types of scoliosis do not require surgery or even braces, the right healthcare professional may be able to point you in the right direction to monitor and manage your child’s scoliosis. Early intervention with a series of rehabilitation programs will be able to effectively manage the scoliosis – provided, there is an early diagnosis and speedy intervention.

For a child diagnosed with scoliosis, it is vital for there to be periodic monitoring by a healthcare professional who understands the condition, as any 5-10 degree changes in the next 6 to 12 months post-diagnosis may mean your child needs more advanced treatments.

How can a Chiropractor help with my child’s scoliosis?

For a spinal curvature that is lesser than 20° a Chiropractor is able to restore proper spinal joints movement to keep the spine more flexible so that scoliosis is less likely to progress. Chiropractic adjustments on the cervical spine may influence righting reflexes in an effort to balance the spine. Besides that, chiropractic adjustments help remove segmental dysfunction of the affected spinal joints which restore the proper nervous system and hence improving the sense of positioning of the spinal joints.

To complement the effect of chiropractic adjustment, exercises that focus on strengthening the muscles on the convex side of the curve and stretching of the muscles on the concave side of the curve will be shown for your child to do it at home.

The chiropractor may also recommend a scoliosis treatment aid to create a specific bending moment, de-rotating and straightening the scoliosis. This allows the muscle and ligament to stretch and create the opportunity for spinal stabilisation exercises while the scoliosis is in a straightened position.

For spinal curvature that is between 20° and 40°, seeing a chiropractor will be beneficial as above; however, the chiropractor will be more vigilant in monitoring for progression while correcting the biomechanical faults. Your chiropractor may also refer you for bracing if needed. For spinal curvature that is more than 40°, bracing or even surgery may be considered.

At My Chirocare, we are trained to help identify your child’s scoliosis severity and to bring him/her through a series of chiropractic adjustments, exercises and perhaps electrical stimulations to help restore proper joint mobility, release the tension in the muscles and improve the sense of positioning of the spinal joints. This, in turn, decreases the risk of abnormal wear and tear of the joint resulting from the condition.

The biggest challenge in treating scoliosis has always been in trying to stay ahead of the curve (pun intended), before it gets worse over time. 

If you suspect your child to have scoliosis or any other form of postural issues (read here to identify Bad Postures in Children), do give us a call. We are ever-ready to guide you through this chiropractic journey for better health and wellness.

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