Scoliosis – Do you think I’m twisted?

Scoliosis – Do you think I’m twisted?

We’re talking about Scoliosis. It’s a mostly quiet, skeletal abnormality that very often presents in kids 11-15yrs old but can also affect younger children, babies and even adults – males and females. 2-3% of children in the ‘at-risk’ age group of 10-15yrs will develop a scoliosis. 30% of the population over the age of 60 have an adult scoliosis (mostly due to degeneration). So why even be concerned about it?

Apart from appearance, the concern with scoliosis is the potential for posture problems and spinal joint dysfunction that can lead to pain and degeneration later in life. Muscle weakness and injury can also be a problem as well as heart and lung problems in rarer, more severe cases.

THE KEY TO PREVENTING OR LIVING WITH SCOLIOSIS IS EARLY DETECTION. During those key ages of 10-15yrs, when the child is going through massive growth spurts and the possibility of things getting worse is high and rapid, there is an opportunity for minimally invasive bracing and exercises to hopefully avoid the need for surgery. If the curve is quite significant then orthopaedic surgery may be required to insert rods and fuse vertebrae.

Once upon a time, children were checked at schools for signs that they may be developing a curvature of the spine. I certainly remember being checked in Year 7 of high school and followed up a year or 2 later. When and why that stopped being conducted in schools is unclear to me. So these days, children go unchecked for scoliosis unless a parent, relative or sports coach happens to notice a few changes in the child’s posture or structure. Now as a parent, I can understand how some might miss the sometimes subtle signs of what is going on with their child’s spine. Parents are great at a lot of things but they can’t be expected to know exactly what to keep an eye out for. Just like you may miss the cavity in your child’s  tooth because you’re not a dentist. Fair enough.

The spine can be measured, monitored and treated early.

A child who may be developing a curve in their spine as they grow may just complain of a sore back from time to time. Their complaints may be what prompts a parent to seek some help for their child with a Chiropractor, unbeknownst to them what is going on beneath the surface. A Chiropractor will do a complete orthopaedic and neurological examination and, if the testing suggests there may be scoliosis occurring, they will often refer for an X-Ray to confirm the curve and get an accurate measure of the angles.

Mark and Mel have certainly seen quite a few of these curved spines in kids during clinic. Some have required bracing and monitoring and unfortunately some have required surgical rods. They have all been healthy, happy kids leading active, normal lives. Their only complaint was a bit of back pain. Whatever the intervention though, these kids continued to lead active lives. It’s not the end of the world, but it should be picked up early in order to make a difference.

Not only is scoliosis a thing for kids but it can develop in adults with no previous history due to spinal degeneration and advancing age.

Some useful sources for further information include:

(Scolicare also have a very useful APP for checking your child’s posture for scoliosis)


Melinda Taylor