Scoliosis Is Common But Not Commonly Understood

June is scoliosis awareness month, and it’s a relatively common condition affecting about one in 1,000 children.
LUBBOCK, TX -- June is scoliosis awareness month, and it’s a relatively common condition affecting about one in 1,000 children.

Dr. Jim Gutheil, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Covenant Health System said, “Our spine should typically be straight. Scoliosis would look like an ‘s’ if looking at a person straight on.”

Gutheil said scoliosis can be worse with girls, and there are genetic links. But the specific cause is unknown. Dr. Gutheil also said for girls it is eight times more likely that they have a curvature that can progress – becoming more severe and requiring treatment.

Gutheil said typically scoliosis is discovered in school physical exams or by parents noticing that one hip or shoulder on their child is higher than the other.

“So, when we have those signs on the outside, we test for it on the inside with x-rays,” Gutheil said. “And those x-rays really let us know if scoliosis is present or not.”

It takes ten degrees or more of curvature to even call the condition scoliosis. If the curvature reaches 20 degrees or more then a patient might be put in a brace. If the curve reaches 50 degrees then doctors will often recommend surgery.

“Kids will be in the hospital for about a week, and will have certain activity restrictions for three months,” Dr. Gutheil said. “But kids tend to recover much better than adults from spinal surgeries.”

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