Advanced scoliosis care for children in southeast Georgia and southern South Carolina
There are many types of scoliosis affecting children. The most common type of scoliosis in children is called adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, or scoliosis of unknown cause. Girls are more likely than boys to have this type of scoliosis, and it typically occurs after 10 years old. Different types of scoliosis, however, can occur in any child and at any age.
While doctors don’t always know what causes scoliosis in children, it can be hereditary. When evaluating your child for scoliosis, your doctor will look for underlying conditions that could cause an abnormal curve in the spine.
Early detection is key to treating scoliosis before it progresses. A trained screener can identify signs of scoliosis that may otherwise be overlooked. These screenings may be performed at pediatrician visits or at school. When scoliosis is caught early enough, with appropriate follow-up, there may be a way to prevent the scoliosis from getting worse over time, and prevent the need for later surgical intervention.
Diagnosing pediatric scoliosis
Scoliosis is typically first detected by a physical exam screening. Your pediatrician or other trained screener looks for asymmetry about the back or shoulders in a standing or bent forward position.
If your child has had a positive scoliosis screening, they should next be evaluated by a pediatric orthopedic specialist to determine if they do have scoliosis and if anything can or should be done to treat it. This includes:
- Detailed medical/family history: This includes reviewing past medical records to look for problems that might be causing the spine to curve, such as a congenital abnormality, trauma or other disorders.
- Physical exam: Your child’s pediatric orthopedic specialist performs a full physical examination. This includes evaluating any asymmetry about the back and shoulders, as well as other detailed examination to ensure there is no evidence of neurologic or other abnormalities.
- X-ray: An X-ray can confirm a scoliosis diagnosis by measuring the curve of the spine on the X-ray image. Scoliosis can only truly be seen and measured on an X-ray. The specialist can review the X-ray to see if there is in fact scoliosis, and assess the severity.
If scoliosis is confirmed, your pediatric orthopedic specialist helps you understand what preventive measures and treatment options are best suited for your child.
Treatment for scoliosis in children
Many children have very mild spinal curves only requiring observation. When treatment is necessary, your pediatric orthopedic specialist considers many factors, including age, how much more your child is likely to grow and the degree and pattern of the curve to formulate a treatment plan specific to your child.
Your doctor may recommend one of the following:
- Observation: Monitoring progress every few months without any treatment while your child is still growing and the curve is mild.
- Bracing: For a moderate spinal curve, your doctor may recommend a brace to help prevent the curve from worsening. When bracing begins early enough, it may be able to successfully prevent the need for surgery later on.
- Surgery: Sometimes, scoliosis is severe enough to require surgical correction. If so, pediatric orthopedic specialists in our Pediatric Scoliosis Program are specially trained to perform these procedures and provide the best possible outcomes for your child. Depending on the situation, they may also collaborate with neurosurgeons, anesthesiologists, physiatrists and other specially trained professionals to care for kids, teens and young adults with scoliosis.
For more information about our scoliosis treatment options, please call (912) 350-7337 (PEDS).
The pediatric scoliosis program at Memorial Health Dwaine & Cynthia Willett Children’s Hospital of Savannah uses advanced technology to detect and treat scoliosis as soon as possible. Our pediatric orthopedic surgeons use state-of-the-art techniques, including neuromonitoring and instrument navigation, to ensure the safest possible procedures and best possible outcomes.
If surgery is needed, a group of experienced medical professionals at our Children’s Hospital of Savannah will work together to provide the best results possible. Your team includes:
- Child life specialists
- Pediatric orthopedic surgeons
- Pediatric nurses
- Pediatric physical and occupational therapists
For more information about what to expect before, during and after pediatric surgery, visit our pediatric surgery page.