Children and teens in numerous school districts across the country are required to submit immunization records along with proof of a physical examination before they are allowed to enroll in classes and attend school each year. While this obligation may seem like a hassle to busy parents, annual physicals can help doctors find existing and potential health problems and treat them accordingly. Scoliosis, a fairly common disorder of the spine, is one such condition.
What Is Scoliosis?
A “normal” spine is straight, but the spine of a scoliosis patient is curved from side to side in an S- or C-shaped curve. People of all ages can have scoliosis, but the most common type, known as idiopathic scoliosis, generally affects children who are between the ages of 10 and 12 or in their early teens. In most cases, the cause of scoliosis is unknown, but it can be the result of injury, disease or infection. It often runs in families.
Easy Scoliosis Checks for Parents
Doctors use physical exams as well as tests, including spine X-rays, to diagnose scoliosis in children as well as adults. Because it can be hereditary, a family history of the condition may also play a role in diagnosis. Some parents are shocked to learn that their children have scoliosis, but there are a few easy-to-perform checks that can be completed at home to help identify early warning signs of the condition.
1. Stand behind your child and look at his or her shoulders. Are they level, or is one shoulder blade higher or more prominent than the other?
2. Look for body symmetry while your child stands upright. Are his or her hip bones the same height? Is the distance between his or her arms and body the same on each side?
3. Stand behind your child and look at his or her rib cage while he/she bends forward. Is there a bulge on one side? Does one shoulder blade look higher than the other?
4. Look at the child from the side while he or she bends forward. Does the arc of his/her back appear smooth and even, or do the shoulders and/or back appear to be rounded?
These at-home scoliosis checks alone are not enough to determine whether or not someone has the condition—a doctor must make an official diagnosis—but they are often accurate indicators, especially if you or someone else in the family has also been diagnosed with scoliosis.
Treatments; which can include regular checkups for observation, exercise, chiropractic care, wearing a brace, or having surgery; depend on several factors: the patient’s age, whether or not he or she is expected to grow much taller, the severity and pattern of the spinal curve and the type of scoliosis.
The earlier the condition is recognized and diagnosed, the sooner professional medical advice can be prescribed. Performing these simple checks at home may help to diagnose the condition in its early stages.
Chiropractors are experts in the evaluation, diagnosis, and management of scoliosis. If you have a family history of scoliosis or have noticed an asymmetry in your adolescent child’s body, a Chiropractic evaluation would be appropriate.
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Carrie Thompson works with CoreCare Back Institute in Roanoke and Danville, Virginia, and enjoys writing about health and wellness.