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When parents learn that their child has scoliosis, the first question is frequently, "What happens next?"  

The answer is determined by a variety of factors. First, it's critical to understand what scoliosis is and how it might affect a person.  

What Is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is the most common spinal curvature identified in teenagers. Healthcare providers can use X-rays to determine whether a child's spine resembles a "S" or a "C" rather than a straight line. According to medical specialists, a minor bend in the spine is common, but a spinal curve of 10 degrees or more is indicative of scoliosis. 

Scoliosis is classified into three primary types:

  • Idiopathic Scoliosis is a kind of scoliosis in which doctors are still unsure why the curvature occurs;

  • Neuromuscular Scoliosis - This type of scoliosis is related to various diseases such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, or spinal muscular atrophy, which cause imbalances in the muscles that support the spine;

  • Congenital scoliosis is a very rare condition caused by faulty spinal development before birth. 

What Are Scoliosis Treatment Options?

The goal of any treatment is to keep the curve from worsening. Many cases do not require scoliosis surgery if discovered early and treated properly. Patients with moderate scoliosis, in which the spine is no longer developing, can engage in normal activities with no restrictions on sports or physical exercise.   

When Do I Need Scoliosis Surgery?

Patients with more pronounced curves are more likely to see their curves continue throughout adulthood. This can be more difficult to rectify and affect one's quality of life. If the curvature of your spine is 45 degrees or more, you should consider surgery. There are two surgical options: spinal fusion or vertebral body tethering. 

Spinal fusion combines two or more separate bones to form a single unit. This is accomplished in two ways: posterior fusion surgery and anterior fusion surgery. The most common type of scoliosis surgery is posterior fusion, which allows doctors to fix most curvature by going through a patient's back. They attach screws or anchors to the curve's bones and connect them with smooth rods. They then straighten the spine. Another fusion surgery option is anterior fusion surgery. Surgeons can prevent some curves from progressing by fusing the front of the spine. Occasionally, screws and a smooth rod are used to hold the spine in place. 

Vertebral body tethering is a technique for controlling the body's growth and correcting the spine without the need for spinal fusion surgery. Spine surgeons and general surgeons must collaborate to help with this procedure. Surgeons accomplish this by creating a tiny incision in either the chest or stomach. Then they screwed screws into the outside of the bent bones in the back and connected them with a tether. 

The tether is tightened in such a way that the outside part of the curve grows more slowly while the inside part continues to develop. This is significant since the body's natural growth can aid in straightening the curve over time. Because the success of this procedure is based on spine growth, the patient should meet very stringent criteria. 

Magnetically controlled growing rods are an additional alternative. Surgeons can employ magnetized rods to assist a child's spine growth. These rods are surgically implanted in the spine and can be extended gradually every few months. This can be accomplished with a remote control located outside the body. The objective of these rods is to allow the spine to continue growing while avoiding many procedures and keeping the curve from worsening. 

The bottom line

Scoliosis can vary from minor to severe. Whether your child has a tiny curve and is generally healthy, or has more complex health issues, they should be diagnosed and addressed as soon as possible. 

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