The treatment of Scoliosis in children is dependent to quite an extent upon their age, efficiency quotient of the functioning of lungs and the extent of spine curvature.
Best Treatment Options For Scoliosis
Observation Of The Curvature
In most cases, it is unnecessary to initiate any treatment in the early stages as the condition corrects itself as the child grows. However, medical experts recommend X-rays every six months to keep an eye on the extent of development the curvature and monitor the spinal condition in a better way.
Attachment of Casts
In certain cases it becomes important to guide the child’s spine back into its normal position and this requires the process of casting. Casts made from plaster of Paris, are attached to the body of the child and have to be worn continuously. Along with age, growth and development of the spine and increase in physical dimensions of the child, the brace has to be changed to set in alignment with the curvature of the spine.
The specialized techniques of making the cast, require the advice and supervision of experts in the field and should be passed by a scoliosis specialist before being put on the child. Children under the age of two are often administered anesthesia to facilitate the changing of the cast. This process takes place every 2-3 months and requires a removable brace in place after the completion of the casting treatment.
Treatment Through Braces
If the spinal curvature seems to be more severe and measures at an angle of more than 20 degrees, then it requires the bracing treatment. It is important to understand the limited role of braces as they prevent the curvature from worsening but cannot lead to the deformation getting totally cured or corrected.
To ensure an accurate and correct fit of the braces on the spine, scoliosis experts recommend a cast of the spine, which can be conducted without keeping the child in the hospital over the night. Few appointments at the clinic or hospital, help in getting the brace in place. The brace has to be worn throughout the day and night and can be taken off only for showers or baths. These braces are specially designed and do not interfere or obstruct the normal daily activities of the child.
Along with the regular usage of braces, it is important to inculcate the habit of regular exercises in the child. This helps in faster recovery of the curvature and improves the body strength and muscle tone to a greater extent. The braces, recommended for physically growing children, have to be worn till the child stops increasing in height-which is usually at the age of 15-17 years.
If the spinal curvature is extremely severe and is more than 50 degrees in angle, then the patient is required to undergo surgical interventions and an appointment with a specialist unit becomes very crucial. Surgery helps in preventing any damage to the heart and lungs and goes a long way in alleviating back pain and any other abnormal deficiencies or developments in your child’s body.
Parents should remember that spinal fusion or any other form of surgery is a very complicated process, wherein the spine is straightened with the introduction of rods and metal hooks before being fused with the help of bone grafts. The surgery usually lasts for 4-8 hours and the child is moved to the ICU after the operation. Pain reliefs, antibiotics and intravenous fluids are administered for 24 hours before shifting the patient to his room. A stay of 7-8 days in the hospital is usually recommended before the child is considered fit to go back home.
Post surgical care and preventive measures include rest at home for 4-6 weeks and the introduction of a back brace to provide added support to the spine. These braces can be removed after 6 months from the date of surgery. The rods inserted through surgical measures have to be lengthened every six months and this requires re-visits to the hospital. These rods are removed by other surgical methods after the child’s spine reaches its maximum growth measures.
The Risks Involved In Spinal Fusion Surgery
Since there are a number of risks involved in spinal fusion surgery, the expert should be absolutely sure of the benefits outnumbering the risks, before he goes ahead with the surgical processes. Some of the most common risks involved are:
Displacement Of The Rod
It has been seen that in over 5 percent of the patients undergoing spinal fusion surgery, the rod tends to move away from its correct position. Though the displacement does not cause any major discomfort, it is always better to restore the same to its correct position by a follow up procedure, which may require a second surgery.
In the event of one of the bones used for fusing the spine failing to graft in the proper way, there arises a risk of Pseudarthrosis.
This occurs in almost 1-5 percent of the patients and causes mild discomfort. In extreme cases, there may arise a loss in the correction of spinal curvature which necessitates a re-surgery.
Infections which develop in 1-2 percent of patients after the surgery can be treated with the help of antibiotics
Damages To The Nerves
In very rare cases, surgical intervention for spinal curvature correction may lead to nerve damages. Though the effects of the damaged nerves are mild in nature and cause a numbness or tingling sensation in the legs, extreme deterioration of nerves may also lead to paraplegia, which causes a total loss of all functions connected with the lower parts of the body. The presence of a neurologist becomes important during the surgical process to alleviate the risks of any kind of nerve damages in the spine.
The other methods of treating scoliosis in your child include osteopathy, physiotherapy, reflexology, acupuncture and electronic stimulation. Though these processes are becoming popular by the day, there exists very little evidence in regards to their effectiveness in correcting spinal curvature. Proper and timely medical advice and intervention can help your child get rid of spinal deformities and the underlying effects of scoliosis.
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