1) What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is when a normally straight spine develops a curvature to the side. There are varying degrees and types of curvatures but in many cases if the curvature is left untreated it will worsen and in some instances can cause deformities, respiratory problems, digestive problems, cardiac problem and pain. Scoliosis affects over 12 million people world wide. It is normally first detected in children age 8 to 16, however it affects children and adults of all ages.

2) What causes Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a very complex condition and can have multiple causes or contributing factors such as an underlying developmental malformation of the spine, diseases, posture, traumas or injuries. Recent research is indicating that there is a genetic component involved but in most cases the cause of scoliosis is unknown.

Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) occurs after the age of 10 and is more common in females. Juvenile Idiopathic Scoliosis (JIS) affects children age 3 to 10 and early onset Scoliosis is a very rare condition that affects children under the age of 3.

The most important thing when dealing with Scoliosis is early detection. Scoliosis is a progressive condition, therefore if it is detected early and aggressively monitored there is a much better chance of slowing or stopping the progression of the curvature.

The curvature can be mild (less then 10 degrees) to severe (greater then 50 degrees) and can occur in the thoracic spine, lumbar spine or in many cases both the thoracic and lumbar spine.

Most often scoliosis is first detected by a parent, swim, dance, or gymnastic instructor when they notice changes in the child’s posture such as a high shoulder or high hip or noticing that the ribs or scapula protrude more on one side of the back. As a parent it is important to keep a close eye on your growing child to look for these postural changes.

3) Why do you recommend avoiding or delaying surgery for Scoliosis?

We look at surgery as a last resort for all of our patients, and unfortunately there are times when surgery is necessary. But we believe it is in the patient’s best interest to explore more non-invasive procedures first. Scoliosis surgery is a very intense long surgery with many possible complications and once it is performed the patient has to spend the rest of their life with instrumentation in their spine. It can lead to a lifetime of back pain and discomfort. In many cases the progression of the curve can be stopped or slowed tremendously using much less invasive techniques such as the SpineCor soft dynamic brace and/or specific spinal restructuring techniques.

4) How long will I require Scoliosis treatment?

That is a very difficult question to answer because every scoliosis case is so individualized. It depends on the age of the person and the degree of curvature in the spine. If the SpineCor brace is recommended the initial recommended time period in the brace is 18 months for an adolescent. Adults are much more on an individualized treatment plan.

5) Am I too old to obtain Scoliosis treatment?

No, you are never too old to obtain scoliosis treatment. However based on your age and the degree of the curvature, the approach to treatment may vary. In an adolescent, the goal is to minimize/stop the progression of the curve, stabilize the spine,  and return the spine to a more normal alignment if possible. In many of our senior patients the goal is more pain relief and improving their quality of life. Adult patients fall somewhere in the middle, in many cases we are able to reduce the postural component of the curvature in the spine as well as eliminate the pain they are experiencing.

6) Can you help people with severe scoliosis?

Yes we can and have helped people with severe scoliosis. Scoliosis is a very difficult condition to treat. The biomechanics behind the curvature of the spine can be very complicated. However with Dr. Creehan’s advanced training in scoliosis and the SpineCor bracing system he has helped many people who have been told by other health care practitioners that there is nothing they can do and they are going to have to live with their pain.

7) Will my curvature get worse as I age?

Generally the curve can continue to increase as you grow. Once you stop growing (around the age of 18) the progression of the curve should stop. However we have seen many cases where adults have developed a curve or their curve has worsened in their adult life. Most of the time the increase in curvature is posture related and can be fixed. Also when scoliosis patients reach their senior years the curve can once again start to increase as their bones and/or muscles start to weaken.

8) What is a Scoliometer?

A scoliometer is a device used to accurately measure the amount of curvature in a person’s spine from the outside.

9) What are the effects of Scoliosis?

Again the effects of scoliosis are very individualized. Some people will not experience any symptoms from their curvature but others may experience a large amount of pain and discomfort. However, even if there is no pain, research has shown that scoliosis does effect the functioning of the heart and lungs. The National Scoliosis Foundation has stated that scoliosis is associated with a reduced life expectency as a result. Some of the more common symptoms associated with Scoliosis are back pain, neck pain, knee and hip pain, headaches, and digestive problems.

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