Although scoliosis consists of a few typical factors, the specific condition and treatment options vary greatly depending on the type of scoliosis present as well as the severity of the curve.
In adolescents, there are a few different forms of scoliosis:
Idiopathic scoliosis :This is the most common form of adolescent scoliosis, and will be noticeable around ages 10 to 15. The word “idiopathic” means that we do not have an answer as to why this occurs or what causes it. However, girls tend to be more prone to developing it.
Early onset scoliosis — Opposite to idiopathic, this form of scoliosis occurs more often in boys, and usually appears before the age of 5.
Congenital scoliosis — This form of scoliosis is present immediately at birth. Some of the vertebrae are deformed or out of shape. Unfortunately, like idiopathic, we do not know how or why this occurs, but it begins in the first 6 weeks of embryotic growth.
Neuromuscular scoliosis — Caused by a neurological condition.
Luckily, there are treatment options to help manage, and in some cases can even completely correct, scoliosis and abnormal spinal conditions.
As with all conditions and diseases, each person and each case is completely different than the next. Some people can live a normal life without ever knowing they have scoliosis, and may never need to treat it. Others may have more of a noticeable condition, and require close monitoring by a physician, who might suggest treatment options such as bracing, to prevent any further curve from progressing. In the most severe cases, surgical options may be necessary in order to properly straighten the spine while preventing any further abnormalities.
When surgery is the recommended option, the most common procedure that has been used to treat adolescent scoliosis is called spinal fusion. This process requires fusing two metal rods to the vertebra that essentially immobilize portions of the spine, creating a system that over time will straighten the back. However, the downside to this procedure is that much of your mobility is lost, and the recovery time can take anywhere from a few months to over a year.
In recent years, many surgeons around the country have slowly been adopting a new treatment to correct spinal curvatures in adolescents, called vertebral body tethering. VBT consists of “growth modulation”, which partially restrains one side of the spine in order to allow the other side to grow, or catch up to the other side. Screws are attached to the outside of the vertebrae, while a tether is attached to each of those screws. When tightening the tether, the curvature immediately starts correcting itself. Over time, this method can fully correct scoliosis. This approach is less invasive and strenuous on the patient compared to spinal fusion, with a much shorter recovery time as well as preserved mobility.
For more information on your child’s VBT candidacy, or to discuss your child’s treatment options, contact us today.