What treatments are available for children with scoliosis?
The treatments available depend on the reason for the scoliosis and how much more the child will grow. Often, observation is all that is required, but there are physical therapy regimens, bracing and surgical options if the curvature of the spine is progressing.
The most common endpoint for scoliosis is that the child finishes growing with a small spine curve that will not cause any problems in adulthood. If a curve begins to get bigger, then using a custom brace to prevent curve progression can help to avoid surgery. This also may be used in conjunction with a physical therapy regimen to combat the inactivity caused by wearing a brace. How long the brace is worn is the main determinant in whether bracing is successful.
If the curve continues to progress, there are surgical options. The most common is a spinal fusion to correct some of the curve and stop any further increase in the curve. There is ongoing work toward a fusionless surgery that involves controlling the growth of the front of the spine to correct the curve as a child grows. This procedure is still in the early phases of study, but certain patients may be eligible.
If the scoliosis is due to or associated with another health issue, then the options are similar depending on the other medical conditions. The treatment also may differ for very young patients. The goal is to craft a treatment plan from the available options that the patient and family can follow that fits their needs while addressing the scoliosis. With an understanding of the possible outcomes, as well as the risks and benefits of the treatment, the best option can be agreed upon between the family and its physician.
For more information on scoliosis, visit childrens.uvahealth.com/services/pediatric-orthopedics/scoliosis.