What do we look for?
Does the child have natural curves at the back of the neck, middle and lower back? The start of scoliosis is often marked by a flattening or increase in spinal curvatures, before a more obvious sideways curve develops.
When the child bends forward is there: a flattening between the shoulder blades, a “s” shape to the spine, or a “hump” on one side of the ribs or low back? Is one shoulder or shoulder blade higher or more forward? We check children to see that they can balance as well on one leg as the other. Is the child or teen overly flexible? This “hypermobility” is a common trait among people with scoliosis. We also check how children are breathing and how their ribs and spine move when they breath. We often find breathing problems in children developing scoliosis.
When do we look for scoliosis?
The most common form of scoliosis (Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis) develops during the adolescent growth spurt. This is generally between the ages of 9 and 16 with girls often reaching the growth spurt earlier than boys. The 5th grade is generally a good time to start keeping a close eye on the growing spine.
What can we do?
If we have concerns with these tests, we recommend the child be seen by their doctor for further evaluation and possibly x-rays, if needed, to help us further evaluate the extent of problematic spinal curves. We base our treatments on the type of curves we see in testing and on x-rays. We do not advocate AT ALL watching and waiting to see if curves will worsen – there is a LOT that can be done with conservative treatment, and the sooner and earlier during growth of the spine, the better.
At Advance Physical Therapy we specialize in Schroth based Scoliosis Treatment and Postural Restoration exercises. These approaches encourage spinal de-rotation and postural awareness to minimize and often reverse the progression of spinal curvatures that accompany growth and development. We often recommend bracing designed to manage the complex corrections required to lessen spinal curvatures.
Please don’t “Watch and Wait” as many of our patients and parents have told us they were advised to do. Often you will be “watching” helplessly as a child’s scoliosis gets worse and worse. We are here to offer treatment and support to lessen the impact of scoliosis on your child.