PARAMUS, N.J. -- HSS orthopedic surgeon Dr. Roger Widmann outlines the importance of early detection of scoliosis in children in the fifth part of a five-segment series.
Scoliosis, defined by a curvature of the spine that more than 10 degrees, is not preventable but can be treated by early detection.
I take my patients' concerns very seriously, as my priority is to keep a scoliosis curve from requiring surgery. Pediatricians are a critical part of early detection as they check for scoliosis every year. Most health care providers check for scoliosis by performing the Forward Bending Test, which is when a patient bends forward at the waist to assess for asymmetry of the back. A scoliometer, which is similar to a level, is used to assess for rotation of the trunk. If there is asymmetry, an X-ray will be taken to evaluate if the asymmetry is caused by scoliosis.
There are some common misconceptions about scoliosis:
- All shoulder asymmetry is caused by scoliosis
- Scoliosis is caused by bad posture
- Scoliosis is caused by certain exercises
- Chiropractic work can cure scoliosis
Scoliosis is treated with a brace when a curve is between 25 and 45 degrees in a growing child. I work closely with the orthotist that makes the brace to decide on brace type and achieve the best correction for a patient.
Although there have been no studies to prove that physical therapy can treat scoliosis effectively, I am supportive of patients who want to try it as long as they comply with my recommendations as well.
Dr. Roger Widmann is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and the Chief of Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery at Hospital for Special Surgery. He practices at both the HSS Outpatient Center in Paramus and the hospital’s main campus in New York.