Monday, March 21, 2016

Kids and Scoliosis

Credit: Children's Healthcare of Atlanta
For my daughter’s annual medical check-up for school, with the pediatrician, we were told that she had a curve in her spine that likely could be scoliosis. After an x-ray and trip to the orthopedist, a scoliosis diagnosis was confirmed. At first, I was not concerned, as I have had scoliosis since I was a kid and it never bothered me, and it did not involve and medication, therapy or surgery.

At the orthopedist’s office, my body temperature rose and my heart began to race as I stood behind Sarah as she stood up, touched her toes and back. There was an obvious misalignment and curve that didn’t seem as noticeable to me before. 

Being there with her alone, I tried my hardest to hold back tears, praying that the worst was not in sight. With a 22 degree curvature in her spine, Sarah needed to be watched to see if her spine would curve some more. Even more startling is that scoliosis is not just a sideways curvature of the spine but that this part of the body can also twist.

I was really surprised by all of this and asked the doctor how this is possible when Sarah had never complained of any pain, and played sports actively, and often.  The orthopedist told me that pain is not a typical symptom of scoliosis, so she likely would not complain about it, especially at her age, and so early on in her body’s growth and development.

Trying not to panic or thinking the worst, I had to keep my nerves in check so as not to freak out Sarah, as she gets upset if I am upset. 
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Most cases of scoliosis are mild, but some children develop spine deformities that continue to get more severe as they grow. Severe scoliosis can be disabling. An especially severe spinal curve can reduce the amount of space within the chest, making it difficult for the lungs to function properly.”

According to Dr. William P. Bunnell, Chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Loma Linda University Medical Center, Loma Linda, California, who was quoted on the National Scoliosis Foundation website states that” Ninety-five percent of the curvatures will not require treatment.” However, this seems indicative of curves that are under 20 degrees, and Sarah currently has a 22 degree curve in her spine.

Therefore, you can imagine my fear and concerns.

The orthopedist encouraged us to follow-up in a few months after that appointment and to get Sarah another set of x-rays to review at a later date. We have an appointment later this week and praying that her curve has not changed, and that it has stayed the same, or lessened, if that’s possible. 

Why I am a bit stressed is that Sarah is only eight years old, and she has not experienced her first period. And, according to information on the National Scoliosis Foundation, “if a patient's curve is around 25 degrees, but she hasn't had her first period yet, there's a significant chance the curve will increase.”

We will know more once Sarah is seen by the doctor this week, and her X-rays are reviewed.  We will then discuss next steps.

I am taking a deep breath as I write these words. We are not taking any drastic measures right away, and we will seek additional opinions if needed.

So, for today, World Poetry Day, I leave you with a Haiku.

To stress, not helpful
Seek medical attention
Don’t make rash choices

Our children’s health
Scary when it goes awry
Breathe, act, take next steps

I would be interested to hear your experiences. Please feel free to share.

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