Scoliosis and Scoliosis Treatment Options
Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine. The spine forms as S shape and when looking at it from behind it should appear as a straight line from the base of the neck to the tailbone. From the side, the top of the spine curves outward and the lower spine curves inward. With scoliosis, the S curve of the spine goes from side to side. Because of the lateral (side-to-side) curves, some symptoms of scoliosis include uneven hips or shoulder blades, leaning to one side, and an uneven waistline. These symptoms often cause fatigue and discomfort.
When treated early and with proper wearing of the appropriate orthosis, scoliosis can be treated and the curve can be kept from getting worse. Treatment will also provide a straighter back, improved posture, and better overall appearance. Without treatment, the curves will get worse and may require surgery.
Why Scoliosis Treatment is Important
- Severe progression of scoliosis can cause health and self-esteem concerns. Scoliosis can have complications such as lung and heart damage caused by the pressure it places against the lungs and heart, making it more difficult to breathe and harder for the heart to pump. Any time breathing is compromised, the risk of lung infections and pneumonia increases.
- Adults with untreated scoliosis may develop arthritis of the spine and may also have chronic back pain.
- Self-esteem issues your child or teenager may be facing can be intensified by scoliosis. Your child might feel isolated and develop a poor body image. As a parent, try to keep your child involved in activities that build confidence. Encourage friendships and normalcy whenever possible. And remember, just like braces on your teeth, this is only temporary.
Scoliosis Bracing Options
There are different bracing options depending on the severity and location of the scoliosis curve. These braces can be customized with a body jacket molded specifically for your body as well as specific pads and straps to meet each patient’s needs and desired outcome.
The Milwaukee Brace has a molded plastic girdle-like structure with metal bars that attach to the girdle below and the neck ring above.
The Boston Brace
The Boston Brace has a molded plastic girdle, similar to the girdle on the Milwaukee Brace, but is used to treat curves that are lower on the spine.
Scoliosis Orthotic System
The Scoliosis Orthotic System is a variation of the Milwaukee Brace and the Boston Brace. It uses unchangeable parts to customize treatment areas.
Nighttime Bracing Options
Charleston Bending Brace
The Charleston Bending Brace is molded to fit your body and is designed to be worn only at night while sleeping.
The Providence Brace is also a custom-molded brace fit especially to your body and worn only at night while sleeping.
- Wear your orthosis exactly as prescribed by your orthotist
- Take special care of your skin – See Skin Care section
- Wear a snug-fitting, seamless T-shirt under your orthosis at all times.
- Properly apply your orthosis every time you wear it.
- Clean your orthosis properly and as needed
- Follow your prescribed exercise program
It is very important to take care of your skin and prevent skin breakdown (skin that is red, sore, or raw). The skin under the orthosis needs to be “toughened up”, especially in places where the orthosis applies the most pressure.
Wear your orthosis to the lines marked on your straps. If your orthosis is loose, it may rub, cause soreness or skin breakdown.
Bathe daily either in the morning or the evening. In addition, use baby wipes to clean skin periodically throughout the day such as after school or before bed.
Examine your skin everyday and pay special attention to any pink or red areas where the orthosis pressure is at its highest. The redness should disappear after 15-30 minutes.
Clothing and Undergarment Suggestions
Protect your skin by always wear a snug, seamless T-shirt under your orthosis. Your underpants may be worn under or over the orthosis (to prevent the elastic waistband from rubbing or cause skin irritation the orthosis). Try both ways during the weaning period to see which is most comfortable for you.
Cleaning Your Orthosis
It is important to clean your orthosis daily or at least a minimum of once a week. The foam will not absorb moisture, however, perspiration will collect on it, which can cause bacteria growth and odor. Clean the liner with a cloth and rubbing alcohol. The rubbing alcohol will disinfect the liner and dry very quickly. Do not use harsh chemicals as they may breakdown the liner and cause skin irritations.
Your physician will prescribe a specific exercise program. Another option is a yoga or stretching program such as www.yogaforscoliosis.com. Be sure to get your physician’s permission before you try any exercise regime other than the one prescribed for you.