Sunday, January 10, 2010

Happy Birthday! You have scoliosis.

My little girly turned 11 a few days ago. The day before her birthday, she got an unwelcome gift: a prescription for a back brace.

At her last physical checkup, the doctor did a scoliosis check, and suggested we go in for a back x-ray as she seemed a little crooked. The doctor seemed pretty nonchalant about it, and it took me a while to get around to getting it done. But the report made me sit up and take notice, and we quickly made an appointment to see an orthopedist.

Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine, measured in degrees. My girl has an S-shaped curve of 30 degrees. At 25 degrees, a brace is indicated for treatment. (At 40 or 45 degrees, surgery is usually indicated. Below 25 degrees, just observation for progression.) She will likely need the brace for about 4 years, or till she stops growing. The brace will not correct the curve, but should keep it from progressing; that's the plan, at least.

If one is going to have a curved spine, I guess the S-curve is preferable to a C-curve. She doesn't look out of balance. She looks perfect!

Tomorrow we will go and get her fitted for her brace. We're told that it will be plastic, hard and uncomfortable. Hot in the summertime. She is supposed to wear it 23 hours per day, but the doctor said most kids don't wear the brace to school, so, realistically, 16 hours is usual. Since she can wear hers to school, it shouldn't be too hard for her to get close to 23 hours most days. She can go to the gym, and continue in the gymnastics class she just started. We'll probably have a flurry of sewing new clothes to fit!

As physical problems go, this is pretty minor. It's not life-threatening. It's probably not a life-long chronic problem. And she is a pretty strong girl. I think she'll have some difficult days, and then she'll toughen up and do fine.


SmallWorld at Home said...

Has anyone recommended swimming to you? I was one of the borderline kids at age 11. My curve was about 4 degrees from where they assign back braces and due to get worse. I started swimming--joined the swim team, swam laps every day. By the first year by curve went from 26 to 11. By the next year it was down to 4 degrees. Anyway--just something you may want to look into.

Margaret said...

I was diagnosed with a 35º to 40º scoliosis when I was 19. At that point there was really nothing they could do short of surgery. The surgery is quite involved and pretty risky, so since I was managing fairly well, they just let it go. I did yoga for awhile, but stopped when I got pregnant. Most yoga positions are nearly impossible with a pregnant belly! :) Anyway, turns out five kids wasn't such a good idea. At 53 the curvature is between 40º and 45º. Basically, I have an eighty year old spine with mild stenosis and multiple degenerated discs. Surgery is out there somewhere, but not until I can barely walk. Much of this could have been aleviated if the scoliosis had been caught when I was eleven or twelve and I had been given a back brace, so encourage Eleanor to where hers as much as she can. And let her know I'll be praying for her. And for you, too, Mom!

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