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I Think My Teen May Have Scoliosis

Are you wondering if your teen has scoliosis? Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is the most common type of scoliosis that affects children between the ages of 10 and 18. The condition affects as many as four out of every 10 adolescents. 

If you suspect your teen has scoliosis, you’re probably wondering about your next steps. Even if your teen isn’t in pain, getting scoliosis treatment can help reduce the progression of the spinal curvature. 

Below, Dr. John Regan and our team at Spine Group Beverly Hills created this guide for parents so you can spot the signs of scoliosis and understand the importance of treatment.

Signs your teen might have scoliosis 

Chances are good that your child has already experienced scoliosis screenings (i.e., the Adam's Forward Bend Test) at school or during a yearly physical, but it’s possible for scoliosis to develop between these screenings. Spinal curvatures can progress up to a rate of 1 degree per month during growth spurts. The fastest rate of progression occurs just before puberty. Because the degree of curvature can change so quickly during a growth spurt, scoliosis visits account for 600,000 visits to pediatricians each year. 

The curve in your teen’s spine is measured in degrees, but you won’t need to measure your child’s spine to spot these two tell-tale signs of scoliosis: 

1. Your teen’s shoulders seem uneven

Your teen might have scoliosis if one of his/her shoulders looks higher than the other even when standing straight. Tank top or camisole straps might slip off the shoulder that dips down lower. Your teen might also notice that backpack and purse straps slide off one shoulder.

2. Your teen has an uneven waistline

If your child is standing straight, but his/her waistline seems uneven or tilted, your teen might have scoliosis.

Even though it can be alarming to suspect your teen has a condition that affects his or her spine, remember that scoliosis can be managed with the right treatment plan. After a physical exam, Dr. Regan suggests the appropriate imaging tests (such as X-rays) to measure the curvature of the spine. The degree of the curve dictates what type of treatment is needed.

Treating scoliosis: what every parent needs to know

Dr. Regan offers both conservative and surgical treatments, depending on the severity and extent of your child’s scoliosis. Treatments may include:

Not all teens who have scoliosis need surgery. In fact, teens with mild-to-moderate curvatures, do well with a brace to straighten their spine. However, if your teen does need surgery, Dr. Regan performs surgery utilizing the innovative coflex ® device. The device’s metal rods keep the spine in place and prevent the curve from worsening. 

Lifestyle tips for teens living with scoliosis

If your teen is diagnosed with scoliosis, there are many things you can do to help your teen:

  1. Encourage your child to wear his/her brace as directed (and explain how it helps to reduce the curve from worsening!)
  2. Encourage your child to stay active (keeping a strong core is essential for a healthy back)
  3. Encourage your child to wear supportive, spine-friendly shoes 
  4. Practice good sleep hygiene, including sleeping on a supportive, high-quality mattress

Not sure if your teen is starting to exhibit the signs of scoliosis? Dr. Regan can answer all of your scoliosis-related questions in our Beverly Hills or Santa Monica, California office. Book an appointment for your teen today and explore our range of scoliosis treatment options.

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