Children and teens who are diagnosed with scoliosis may experience a wide range of emotions from embarrassment to fear to anger. As an orthopedic spine surgeon here at Spine Group Beverly Hills, Dr. John Regan is no stranger to diagnosing and treating children with scoliosis throughout Beverly Hills, California.
While we offer expert and compassionate care, we also know that parents have a big role in helping kids understand what scoliosis is and how to manage it on a day-to-day basis. 4% of adolescents are diagnosed with scoliosis. If your child is one of them, here are six tips to help your child.
The most encouraging way you can help your child adjust to a scoliosis diagnosis is to listen to their concerns. Your child may have questions about what scoliosis is and how it’s treated. The more you learn about scoliosis, the more you can answer your child’s questions. Of course, we’re always happy to answer your questions too!
The simplest way to describe scoliosis to a child is that it’s a sideways curve in the spine. Depending on the age of your child, it may help to use pictures or videos so your child can gain a better understanding.
It can be overwhelming or even scary for a child to hear terms like scoliosis. They may have many concerns about their treatment options. Dr. Regan offers both conservative and surgical treatments for scoliosis.
Your child’s potential treatments may include:
Not all children who have scoliosis need surgery, but if your child does, it’s important to listen to your child’s concerns and discuss the importance of surgery. Scoliosis surgery involves inserting the Coflex® device, a small titanium implant, into the back of the spine. This device keeps your child’s spine in place and prevents the curve from worsening.
Understanding the importance of surgery can help your child feel more comfortable with this option. During your conversations, be honest and positive, assure your child that you’re with them every step of the way, and plan for a fun outing once your child recovers. This can give your child something fun to look forward to rather than dwelling on an upcoming surgery.
Some children may not want to wear a brace or may even feel embarrassed by it. You can help motivate your child by:
Tip: Ensure that your child wears a sweat-wicking shirt under the brace and always inspect your child’s skin for any signs of redness, rubbing, or other irritation.
In addition to helping your child wear and maintain the brace, encourage your child to stay active and complete any prescribed stretches or exercises. Keeping a strong core is vital for a healthy back, and certain exercises like pelvis tilts, cat-cow, and arm/leg raises can help promote a strong core.
You probably have heard someone sing “the head bone’s connected to the neck bone.” This is a reference to your kinetic chain, a concept used to describe how human movement is all connected. In other words, each step you take can affect your ankles, knees, hips, and spine.
This also means that supporting your feet can help support your back too. Help your child find supportive, spine-friendly shoes. According to a 2018 report published in the American Journal of Case Reports, researchers noted that wearing shoes with orthotic inserts improved mild lumbar scoliosis in a five-year-old girl.
Sleeping on a high-quality mattress is essential for good spine health. Medium-firm mattresses are a good choice for children (and adults) with scoliosis. In particular, medium-firm foam mattresses provide cushioning, pressure point relief, and additional required support.
In addition to sleeping on a good mattress, teach your child the importance of sleeping in a spine-friendly position, using the right pillow for the type of position you sleep in, and practicing good sleep hygiene.
Whether you have questions about your child’s current treatment, or you’re just now starting to spot the signs of scoliosis such as uneven hips or a backpack strap that always slides off one shoulder, don’t hesitate to reach out to Dr. Regan.
Questions? Book an appointment with Dr. Regan here at Spine Group Beverly Hills by calling 424-238-3281.