Scoliosis checks before teen years boosts chance of treatment, says spine doctor
Posture problems can often be addressed with simple exercises, while scoliosis involves a structural deformity in spine, says orthopedic surgeon
When children are checked for scoliosis before they reach adolescence, this boosts the chances that treatment will be successful, according to a Turkish spine doctor.
Dr. Huseyin Sina Coskun, an orthopedic surgeon at Ondokuz Mayis University's Medical School in Samsun in Türkiye’s Black Sea region, told Anadolu about the importance of distinguishing scoliosis from posture issues, stressing that posture problems can often be addressed with simple exercises, while scoliosis involves a structural deformity of the spine.
Emphasizing that scoliosis is typically observed around age 10-19, Coskun said: "Scoliosis is a condition with an unknown cause. Adolescence is the most common age group for idiopathic scoliosis. Symptoms often include uneven shoulders, with one shoulder appearing higher than the other.
“Additionally, when the patient leans forward, there may be an elevation or hump on one side of the back. This elevation on one side becoming more prominent and the other side less so is a key characteristic of scoliosis."
Treatment for scoliosis is possible, he said, outlining the three generally accepted treatment methods.
"In scoliosis treatment, observation is an option for curves typically between 0 to 20 degrees without active intervention. For curves between 20 to 40 degrees or when age appropriate, bracing is preferred. Bracing is applied during ongoing growth and is not suitable for children with completed bone growth,” he said.
“Curves exceeding 45 degrees usually require surgical treatment,” he added.
Coskun also stressed successful surgeries, mentioning that patients often grow a few centimeters (an inch or so) taller after the operation.
Swimming, though a healthy habit, is no cure
Coskun dismissed the long-held idea that swimming is beneficial for scoliosis, saying that recent studies show that taking to the water does not have a direct effect on reducing scoliosis curvature. “Some publications even suggest it might worsen it, but this needs further confirmation through research," he said.
"Nevertheless, swimming is generally a healthy sport for overall body health, working out all muscles. Unfortunately, it doesn't have a direct impact on scoliosis," he added.
Coskun pointed to the higher prevalence of scoliosis in girls and stressed the importance of precautionary measures.
He suggested that taking a spinal X-ray before adolescence, especially for girls before menstruation and for boys before adolescence, can lead to early intervention and better treatment outcomes.
Starting treatment early offers a higher chance of success, he added.
Coskun also said there has been a slight rise in scoliosis cases due to disruptions in check-ups during the recent COVID-19 pandemic.