Scoliosis is like any other illness: the sooner you identify it, the better your chances of treating it. Since the spine becomes more rigid as a person gets older, the sooner someone is diagnosed with scoliosis, the sooner they can begin a proper course of treatment that can control — or even reverse — the effects of scoliosis.
Diagnosing scoliosis is easy, but identifying it pre-diagnosis can be surprisingly difficult. In fact, it will often go unnoticed for many years in young patients. Many cases are not identified until the patient has gone through puberty and the curve becomes more noticeable.
Thankfully, there are symptoms and signs of scoliosis that parents, teachers, and other adults can look out for in young patients. These symptoms may help identify scoliosis at an early age when it is still most easily managed.
Early Signs of Scoliosis in Children
The first warning sign of scoliosis in children is having a family history of it. This is one that doctors, in particular, should be made aware of. Research has shown that there is a 30% chance kids will develop scoliosis if a family member already has it. If it runs in the family, pay extra close attention to your child(ren) and keep an eye out for the symptoms below.
Visual Indicators of Scoliosis
There are multiple visual indicators that could suggest scoliosis. Uneven posture is probably the most obvious, but there are plenty of other visual signs a child may have scoliosis, such as one hip being more pronounced, one shoulder blade sticking out more, one leg appearing shorter than the other, or the body leaning to one side.
Parents may also notice that their child’s clothes don’t fit quite right. For example, a shirt or blouse may hang unevenly on the child, or the neckline might be off-center. Along with uneven posture, this could be an indicator your child has scoliosis — and is certainly a reason to talk to your doctor.
Part of why it is difficult to diagnosis scoliosis is that the symptoms, especially early on, are so mild. Patients rarely suffer chronic back pain from scoliosis unless the curve becomes very severe. Still, though rarely associated with the condition, any unexplained and persistent back pain in growing children could well be a sign that they have scoliosis.
Lastly, any excess fatigue occurring after long periods of sitting or standing might also be a symptom of scoliosis. The back muscles have to work harder than usual when suffering from scoliosis to keep the body balanced and, as such, will become fatigued more quickly.
There are often few noticeable symptoms in the early stages of scoliosis. This can make it difficult to identify, but it also reflects the fact that scoliosis need not be detrimental to your child’s health and well-being. If scoliosis is properly diagnosed at a young age and properly treated over the course of a lifetime, your child should see no meaningful changes to their lifestyles and habits. They will still be able to perform the sports and activities they enjoy, and they should suffer no serious complications (e.g. chronic back pain) as long as they develop a comprehensive treatment plan that they design with a knowledgeable spine specialist.
The sooner treatment begins, the sooner your child can get back to their life.
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