January 18, 2019

Straight Talk about Scoliosis – What Happens When Your Spine is Curved and How to Prevent Progression

Early detection is key to preventing progression and promoting good posture

When you look at a healthy back, you should see a spine that runs straight down the middle. With scoliosis, a person’s spine has an abnormal curve. Today’s modern medicine is proving that early detection can help prevent progression of spinal deformities.

It’s important to identify scoliosis as early as possible, said Amy Street, a certified prosthetist orthotist with CarePartners Orthotics & Prosthetics, “Early orthotic intervention can help delay and prevent surgery. Once the curve has been diagnosed, our main goal is to prevent progression.”

Families — with the help of their pediatricians — should watch a child’s spine throughout the year, advised Street. “If we begin treating the patient before the curve becomes too large, we have a much better likelihood of holding it there, in that smaller magnitude, through growth spurts,” she explained. “Without treatment, that curve can progress 12 or more degrees in one year.”

If a curve is detected, a patient is often sent for X-rays and referred to an orthopedist. “Their condition will be monitored via X-ray every six months or so,” said Street.

“If the curve stays under 20 degrees, no treatment may be needed. If it progresses above 20-25 degrees, the orthopedist will generally prescribe a scoliosis brace.”

Once diagnosed with scoliosis, treatment lasts until the patient is finished growing. For girls, this can be around 18 months after they start their menstrual cycle; for boys it can be a little longer, depending on their growth rate.

Early detection of scoliosis is critical for ensuring better long-term outcomes. “We want to keep small curves small and do what we can to improve alignment and balance for those with larger curves, while also preventing progression,” said Street.

Amy Street is a certified prosthetist orthotist with CarePartners Orthotics & Prosthetics.

CarePartners Orthotics & Prosthetics is certified by the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics and Pedorthics, and provides the finest comprehensive care and assistive devices for people living with amputation, deformity or disability, from infants to the elderly.

To learn more about CarePartners Orthotics & Prosthetics services or arrange an evaluation, call 828-254-3392 or visit carepartners.org.