Idiopathic scoliosis is a condition that occurs in which the spine develops an abnormal curve. It’s the most common type of scoliosis and can turn into a severe deformity if left unattended.
It’s a fairly common problem in American kids, but its exact prevalence isn’t apparent. A British study estimates that nearly 0.5-5% of the world population has it in some form or other.
The word ‘idiopathic’ signifies that there is no definite cause for its occurrence. Extensive studies have shown that girls are ten times more prone to it than boys.
A mild instance of idiopathic scoliosis only requires close monitoring. But, one might need a scoliosis brace if things take a turn for the worse.
When Does It Occur?
While idiopathic scoliosis occurs in people of all ages, it’s commonly observed in children. It’s termed early-onset scoliosis when detected at a young age and accompanied by other health conditions.
There are three types of idiopathic scoliosis.
In most cases, early detection and treatment can prevent the condition from becoming more severe. It’s best to treat the condition before the adolescent growth spurt.
How Does Bracing Help in the Treatment of Idiopathic Scoliosis?
According to many studies, the usage of a scoliosis brace is crucial to reduce the chance of developing a severe spinal deformity. The brace is designed to help maintain body alignment and improve balance during children’s growth.
BrAIST (Bracing in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis Trial) confirms that early bracing treatment is among the best non-operative methods to cure scoliosis.
If a scoliosis curve is 50 degrees or more at the time of skeletal maturity, it may continue to progress throughout adulthood. These curves tend to cause a severe deformity that requires surgery.
The goal of using a scoliosis brace for adults or children is to avoid surgical procedures. It’s done either by stopping curve progression or preventing it from reaching 50 degrees before skeletal maturity.
Bracing treatment increases pressure on the spine to relieve the load on the inner part of the curvature. At the same time, it increases the load on the outer part of the curve. This doesn’t let the bone experiencing compression grow and instead gives the deviating bone room to grow.
Who Are the Ideal Candidates for Bracing?
Doctors recommend scoliosis bracing for children who are still in the growth phase and have a curvature of 25 degrees or more.
Before prescribing an orthosis, orthopedists will check to ensure that a child isn't too far along in the growth process. They may measure a child's height, ask questions about a girl's periods, or take X-rays to determine if a brace will help your child.
Each child's body and bone curvature is unique, so a scoliosis brace can only be made to order. You will require the services of an orthotist to get the brace designed and checked.
It’s worth noting that the bracing treatment won't help if a curve is too big (usually more than 40 degrees).
What Is the Right Time to Start Bracing Treatment?
Cobb angle is a standard method to track the progress of bone formation and its curvature levels. It’s called scoliosis only if the angle of curvature is more than 10 degrees. This can be determined with a simple spine X-ray and some math.
Doctors might want to monitor development when the Cobb angle is more than 10 degrees but less than 25 degrees. After four to six months, another X-ray is recommended to check if the curve is progressing.
A scoliosis brace is prescribed when certain objective conditions are met.
Your doctor is unlikely to prescribe a scoliosis brace if your kid is nearing or at full skeletal maturity.
What are the Challenges of Using a Brace?
Making your little one wear a medical device throughout the day can be quite the task, for starters. They might flat out refuse to wear one or make excuses to remove it. Even after they embrace the brace, other problems may creep in.
Braces are designed to fit the body perfectly. As a result, kids complain of not breathing correctly or feeling stuffy while wearing one. Factors like friction and accumulation of sweat often lead to rashes or skin irritation.
You can overcome these challenges by encouraging your kid, regular maintenance, and following best practices. More importantly, visit your orthotist immediately if you think that the brace is ill-fitted or you see signs of a tear.
It’s essential to get the opinion of your orthopedist or physical therapist before starting with a bracing regimen. If you’re prescribed to wear a scoliosis brace, ensure that you follow through diligently since it’s the key to prevent surgery.
Are you worried about dealing with scoliosis as an adult? Here’s a blog post that lays out the treatment options and coping mechanisms.
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