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Scoliosis is a sideways curve of the spine that occurs most often after a growth spurt in adolescence. Instead of the spine being relatively straight up and down there is an “S” or “C” curve. Most curvatures of the spine are minor but some can lead to changes elsewhere in the body like the shoulders, ribs and pelvis. A severe case of scoliosis can cause severe back pain, difficulties breathing and can be quite disabling.
The most prevalent type is idiopathic scoliosis which means the cause is unknown
The second most common type is congenital which means the curvature was present at birth and is caused by misshapened bones
The least common type is neuromuscular and is related to another condition like cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy
Scoliosis affects a small percentage of the population and is more common in girls than boys. Idiopathic scoliosis usually develops just before puberty.
An abnormal curvature in your child’s spine may initially be hard to detect. Other things you may notice is that one shoulder is higher than the other, one shoulder blade sticks out more than the other or one side of the pelvis seems higher. Your child might also complain about back pain.
Scoliosis is diagnosed by a combination of x-rays and clinical tests. These tests can help determine the presence of scoliosis and its severity.
Parents are often the first people to observe that their child’s posture has changed. If you are concerned one easy test you can do at home to check your pre-teen for scoliosis is to ask them to bend forward at the waist while you observe from behind. If you notice that one side of their ribcage is higher than the other you should visit a physical therapist or your family doctor for further examination.
There are different types of treatment available for scoliosis ranging from exercise to wearing a brace to having surgery. The vast majority of people with scoliosis do not need to use a brace or have surgery. A minor or moderate curvature can simply be monitored over time to make sure it doesn’t get worse. All types of scoliosis will benefit from a lifestyle that includes a lot of varied physical activity.
If you or your child has scoliosis physiotherapy is key to developing a personalized exercise routine to maintain mobility and core strength. Research also shows that physical therapy can help those with scoliosis to maintain optimal breathing mechanics. Physiotherapists can also teach your child strategies to maintain an upright posture despite their curvature. Finally physiotherapy can be helpful in managing any pain related to this diagnosis.
At Leduc Physio we have plenty of experience in working with young athletes – if you have concerns about your child then please call us at (780) 980.5443 to book an assessment.