Living with Scoliosis
Scoliosis is a back disorder that is sometimes easily spotted by the exaggerated sideways curvature of the spine of someone who suffers from it. Curves are S-shaped or C-shaped and from directly behind do not resemble the normal straight line view of a healthy spine. In over half of all scoliosis cases, the cause is unknown, or idiopathic. Some people with scoliosis do experience it since the time of their birth. This type of scoliosis is referred to as “congenital.” Anybody can have scoliosis at any age, although children are more likely to show symptoms. Adults can develop a form of scoliosis called degenerative adult scoliosis sparked by the deterioration of the spine that comes with age.
While most scoliosis symptoms do not inflict physical pain on the patient, and while most available treatment options do not require surgery, life with scoliosis isn’t a walk in the park. Due to its observable nature, people affected by scoliosis face unique obstacles.
Teens and Scoliosis
Most people affected by scoliosis are actually children between the ages of 10 and 12 and in their early teens. It is not uncommon for a high school student, especially female, to be diagnosed with scoliosis, as by this time the S- or C-shaped curve has had time to become more apparent to the untrained eye of a parent or friend. The best way to prevent further curvature development is to wear a back brace until the child’s skeleton has stopped growing. As you can imagine, wearing a device that most other children don’t have to is usually pretty daunting for a child in this stage of her life.
Bracing is the most common treatment for adolescents experiencing scoliosis with a spinal curve between 25-40 degrees. If the child has even 2 years left of physical development, a back brace is the first go-to treatment option. Although the back braces of today are nothing like the cages children used to wear in the previous century, adolescents are usually very self-conscious about their appearance. It can sometimes be difficult for parents to enforce the wearing of a brace, as like many adults, adolescents don’t weigh the long-term health benefits of “suffering” from wearing a brace short-term.
To help insecure teens transition into wearing a brace there are numerous support groups that meet online or in person for teens suffering from scoliosis. Psychologists also recommend that parents show support by listening to their child’s concerns and providing understanding rather than imposing their personal beliefs about how the child should feel.
Although wearing a brace may feel uncomfortable at first and like you are wearing a giant bullseye, rest assured that if you are the person wearing the brace, you are much more aware of it than the people around you. Many people question whether they have to quit performing physical activities they enjoy because of the brace, and there is good news here. Doctors all recommend keeping up with physical activities like swimming, cycling, and soccer as these activities keep your body strong, especially core muscles that support the spine.
For more information about scoliosis and scoliosis treatment options, visit Marc Cohen Spine Center or call (973) 538-4444 today for an appointment with New Jersey’s top spine specialist.