Like we learned Monday in Scoliosis Facts, Risk Factors there are many different risk factors for this condition, but it is important to know not all cases are gloomy. A positive – and common - example is my personal case, which I shared on Monday. I grew out of it with no permanent consequences, but a bad example is a girl in my grade school who had to have a steel rod surgically inserted in her spine.
If you have or had scoliosis, or have a daughter, niece, cousin or young neighbor, this information may educate and inspire them to get checked earlier than later by a doctor, or even their own mother. There are certain symptoms of scoliosis that are easy to point out, and some more difficult. The easy ones to notice are uneven shoulders or leaning to one side. Some more difficult - but not impossible - symptoms to detect are an uneven waist or one prominent shoulder blade.
I would be remiss without saying a young girl may be shy to have someone they are not comfortable with take their clothes off and check their spine, shoulder blades or the evenness of their waistline, so it might be beneficial to educate these young ladies about the risks and consequences of scoliosis before you send them for an exam. It is vital to educate them, rather than scare them.
Young girls are impressionable and shouldn't be lectured to think that unless they get checked immediately, they will be in the operating room next week getting a steel rod infused in their spine. That is not only cruel, but incorrect. Because scoliosis in young girls is most commonly due to quick growth spurts, this condition can have a way of correcting itself over time. And sometimes, no extensive treatment is necessary. That is a positive outlook for girls to keep in mind when understanding scoliosis.
When a girl has scoliosis due to idiopathic factors, sometimes if not detected early enough or the spine curvature continues to worsen, a back brace may benefit by assisting the spine in preventing further curvature and promoting healthy growth. A brace can be regarded as the step before surgery is considered.
Although research shows significant benefits from the use of a brace, it would behoove you to keep these facts in the back of your mind when making a decision for your child. A back brace can also be regarded as annoying, slightly painful and discomforting physically and emotionally.
With a brace, physical activity is limited because it decreases movement of the spine. It also presses against the stomach suppressing the ability to breathe normally. And because the brace is a physical restriction, it is common for children and young adults in a brace to lose weight and become physically unfit.
Emotionally speaking, I can’t imagine how exhausting it is to cope with a brace strapped tightly to my body for 22-23 hours a day, with spine surgery lingering in the back of my mind. Young girls should be worrying about their middle school crush and what to wear to the movies on a Friday night with her girlfriends.
Although all my talk about wearing a brace seems painful and exhausting, do remember there are huge benefits to it that have proven to prevent surgery for many. So, in the grand scheme of life, what is more important for a young girl – a back brace for a few months or a complicated spine surgery with a long, tedious and painful long recovery? Keep in mind, the choice is hers.