Checking your child for Scoliosis

February 01, 2020

Physical therapy in children with scoliosis
Emmanuel Feranmi

What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a disorder that affects the spine. It is defined by doctors as a sideways curvature that affects the spine and often occurs during the growth spurt that happens just before puberty. What this tells us is that prepubescent children are the ones mostly affected by this disease.

When Scoliosis happens, the spine is bent into unnatural and twisted ways. This deformity usually happens at different directions in different places so it is one that is quite difficult to notice without a close medical examination. Asides growth spurt, there are other things such as injuries and paralysis that can cause Scoliosis.

Idiopathic Scoliosis, which is one of the most common forms of the disorder, happens when the spine begins to grow asymmetrically. The cause of this asymmetrical growth isn't well known. It usually begins in infancy or starts just before puberty. In fact, as long as the child continues to grow, Scoliosis continues to develop further. It isn't a disorder that gets severe all at once. Instead, it is a gradual disorder that gets severe only over a long period of time.  However, when it does get severe, it can be very painful. You definitely don’t want your child is such a condition.

Recognizing and treating Scoliosis

To treat Scoliosis properly, it is important that the disease is recognized on time. Since it is a bone growth problem, the longer it is left to fester, the more permanent damage is done. Most children are checked for symptoms of Scoliosis in their schools during physicals, but these checks do not happen consistently so it is quite easy for a case of Scoliosis to degenerate so badly that it becomes quite serious.

To avoid this, parents must learn to take matters into their own hands and check for symptoms of Scoliosis themselves. Importantly, parents must check for symptoms at least four times a year. This will ensure that Scoliosis, if present, will be diagnosed early.

The next question, of course, is obvious. How do parents, many with no medical training, check for Scoliosis? Actually, it's kind of easy, and if you follow the instructions properly you should have no problem detecting early signs of the disorder.

You can check for Scoliosis in your children by following these steps;

  • First off, you make the child stand upright with the back bare from the neck to the buttocks. You then take a chair and sit behind the child or stand behind him. What's important is that you're able to see the back clearly and it is well illuminated. Then, the first step is to have a broad look at the straightness of the back of the child. Try to see if there's an unnatural curvature in the stance of your child or if there are any bends or twists.
  • Now turn the child to the side so that you can see his chest and belly area and then turn to the other side so that his back faces you. Take a careful look as the child is turned and check whether there's anything twisted about the stance or body posture of the child.
  • Let the child's back face you once more. When this is done, check whether shoulders are on equal height (you can lay your hands on both shoulders to be able to observe better). You should also take a careful look at the crests at the top of the pelvis and check if they are on equal height. If they aren't, this could mean that your child has developed (and is developing) Scoliosis.
  • The next thing to do is to look carefully along the spine to check whether there are sidewise bends. One should endeavor to carefully check the area between the top of the neck and the buttocks for these bends. You should also carefully stroke the mid of the spine and make sure that your fingers feel the crests on the spine.
  • Next, let your child bend forward and touch his toes with straight legs then proceed to look along his back to check for elevated areas or bumps. If the spine has a curvature, the curved part of the spine will push up against a side of the back.

There you have it. Five steps. While checking for symptoms, have a journal or note where you can record your observations. This is important as it helps you compare against other checks that you might make in the course of time.

If you notice abnormalities that are consistent with Scoliosis, it is important that you get professional help immediately.  

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