Scoliosis is a common spinal deformity that usually manifests as a curvature of the spine. It affects approximately 3 percent of the population and usually appears during childhood. Despite how frequently scoliosis occurs and the medical advances that enable us to treat it, this disease is still surrounded by myths and misconceptions as to how it originates and what can be done about it. As June is Scoliosis Awareness Month, we thought it was an opportune time to expose 5 common scoliosis myths and set the record straight.
MYTH: Scoliosis can be prevented
When scoliosis is first detected in children, remarkably, many parents wonder if they could have prevented it. The truth is, while we are beginning to trace the origins of the disease to a number of factors ranging from genetics to hormones, none of these factors are controllable. The vast majority of scoliosis cases are “idiopathic,” meaning there is no known cause. With causes that are unknown or uncontrollable, there’s no way any of us can predict when it will strike or how it could have been prevented. A heavy school backpack or poor posture may not be healthy for your child’s spine, but those are not causes of scoliosis.
MYTH: Scoliosis is a guarantee of pain and deformity
Scoliosis carries the possibility of creating severe deformity in extreme cases, but in the vast majority of diagnoses it is highly treatable, and in some cases even correctable. The sooner it is detected, the more options are available for managing it.
MYTH: Scoliosis always requires bracing or surgery
Many scoliosis patients have mild enough cases that they do not require bracing or surgery. These options are typically used in moderate to severe, or progressive cases, in which the curvature approaches or exceeds 50 degrees. In children, the puberty growth spurt is the time when the curvature progression needs to be monitored. Upon adulthood, most curvatures under 50 degrees do not worsen, with a few exceptions.
MYTH: Scoliosis makes you frail and susceptible to injury
The question of activity depends on the individual and severity of the symptoms, not on the presence of the disease itself. Many scoliosis patients participate in intense athletic activities and rigorous exercise without a problem. Even after surgery, many people who were diagnosed with scoliosis go on to live normal, active lives.
MYTH: Scoliosis surgery is risky, invasive and painful
Modern medicine has come a long way in the treatment of scoliosis than the invasive surgeries of the past. Today, spine surgeons have many, less invasive options that carry less risk, cause less pain and make recovery times shorter.
If you’d like more information about this disease and your options for treatment, we are here to help. Call Polaris Spine for an appointment today at 404.256.2633.