Scoliosis refers to a sideways curve in the spine, and it’s often diagnosed in adolescence between the ages of 10 and 15. Many schools conduct scoliosis screenings to ensure that any children with scoliosis get the care they need. In many cases, a back brace can help prevent the curve from getting worse, and the screenings help ensure that all cases of undiagnosed scoliosis are caught and treated.
But do all scoliosis cases require a back brace? Not necessarily. Dr. John Regan and the team at Spine Group Beverly Hills in Beverly Hills, California, dive into this topic below.
Do you have to wear a back brace to correct scoliosis?
The short answer is no, people don’t necessarily have to wear a back brace if they have scoliosis. In some cases, regular monitoring is all that’s needed.
According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, children with mild scoliosis benefit from routine x-rays every 4-6 months to monitor for any signs of progression. For adults with scoliosis, the recommendation is once every five years.
If Dr. Regan suspects that the curve is likely to progress (or if routine monitoring shows that it’s already starting to progress), he may recommend a brace to help straighten the back and help prevent the curve from worsening.
Whether or not you benefit from a brace depends on the degree of the curve. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends braces for scoliosis in the following circumstances:
- The curve is 20 to 40 degrees (a moderate curve) and the curve has progressed by more than five degrees
- The curve is already over 30 degrees at the initial diagnosis and there is still a lot of growing to do
What about adults with scoliosis? Braces are most often recommended when your spine is still growing, which is why children wear braces more than adults. However, adults with scoliosis may sometimes wear braces.
The goal of a pediatric scoliosis brace is to stop the curve from worsening. Adults may, however, wear braces to help reduce pain. Some studies show that braces for adults can help eliminate lower back pain. Another study also revealed that bracing, while not as common in adults as for children, can help slow progression in patients who saw some progression already.
Types of scoliosis braces
If Dr. Regan determines that bracing is the right option, he reviews all of the different types of braces with you. Common scoliosis braces include:
- The front-closing Wilmington brace
- The back-closing Boston brace
- Milwaukee brace, which is worn on the outside of your clothes
- Rigo-Cheneau brace
- Charleston bending brace, a nighttime brace
Even if Dr. Regan recommends a brace, it’s important to continue monitoring to ensure that the brace is working and that the curve isn’t worsening.
What are the alternatives to the brace?
Scoliosis braces are very effective as long as your curve falls within the parameters recommended by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Even if a brace isn’t right, you’re not without options.
Dr. Regan can perform minimally invasive surgery for scoliosis to reduce the spinal curvature and prevent additional medical complications. By utilizing spinal fusion techniques, Dr. Regan connects two or more bones in the spine to prevent their movement. The bones are held in place with rods and screws to prevent spinal movement and prevent the curve from worsening.
Depending on your age and the severity of scoliosis, Dr. Regan may install an adjustable spinal rod that can be adjusted throughout growth periods.
Getting started with bracing
If you just found out that you or your child has scoliosis, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We know the thought of scoliosis can be overwhelming, but the right treatment 一 whether that’s a brace or surgery 一 can help slow the progression of the curve and reduce complications of a severe curve.
To learn more, call our office today at 424-238-3281 or request an appointment online.