Scoliosis screening for a child

Detecting scoliosis in its early stages is important if you want to halt its progression and minimise the severity of the symptoms. This raises the question: should we be screening for scoliosis in schools?

School screenings aim to detect the minor deformities that often go unnoticed by general practitioners but which can point to a possible curvature of the spine.

Family doctors don't tend to carry out routine checks for scoliosis, so symptoms are often left untreated until the curvature becomes more prominent or the patient starts to experience pain - an outcome that could potentially have been avoided with early detection. Unfortunately, if the patient's spinal curve is allowed to develop to 40 degrees (or more), treatment options become very limited.

 

Why Should We Screen in Schools?

It's estimated that 3 or 4 children out of every 1,000 in the UK need to be treated for scoliosis - and with over 8.7 million pupils in schools across the UK as of 2018, you can imagine how prevalent this condition really is. Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis tends to develop while children are aged between 10 and 15, so screening at this time could well help to reduce the number of adults suffering with severe scoliosis in this country.

If it's caught early, exercise-based therapies like our ScolioGold treatment programme can be used to prevent scoliosis from getting worse (even helping some patients to avoid invasive spinal surgery).

Interestingly, in the past, the UK did screen for scoliosis in schools. This was a fairly common practice up until the 1990s, but it was eventually abandoned.

Researchers Muhammad Ali Fazal and Michael Edgar from the University College Hospital and the London Clinic conducted a study called The Detection of Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis and were able to ascertain that:

"In the year 2000, only 8% of patients with scoliosis had been identified by school screenings compared to 32% in 1985. Similarly, the number of patients presenting with curves over 40° increased to 70%, showing that untrained eyes are only capable of identifying spinal deformities at a later stage."

These findings highlight the important role school screenings can play in preventing debilitating cases of scoliosis. So why aren't we employing a national scoliosis screening strategy now?

 

Concerns About Screening

There have been a number of petitions to bring scoliosis screenings back to UK schools. Unfortunately, none have yet been successful.

The government's response to such petitions has been largely influenced by the advice offered by the UK National Screening Committee (UK NSC) who, after a three-month consultation, decided that screenings for scoliosis should not be offered. There were several reasons for this decision:

  • Firstly, the UK NSC found that there was no standardised or agreed cut-off for the Adams forward bending test where doctors agreed that the child needed treatment. This meant that some children would go on to have further scoliosis tests even though they'd likely have gotten better on their own, while others would miss out on further tests and treatments even as their curvature became worse over time.

  • Secondly, the UK NSC expressed a concern that school children might be exposed to harmful x-rays unnecessarily if the Adams forward bending test was not capable of determining the severity of the child's condition.

  • Thirdly (as with everything) cost played a role in the final decision. The UK NSC expressed concern that the likelihood of false-positive diagnosis in relation to the cost of nationwide screening was not justifiable.

These recommendations against school screenings are based largely on outdated and limited data. In our opinion, based on the current data we have, it's reasonable to recommend that children and in particular adolescents participate in school screenings where both the Adams forward bending test and scoliometry are used.

 

Does My Child Have Scoliosis? What Should I Do?

If you think your child has scoliosis, or if your doctor has confirmed that your child has a curved spine, we can help you test and treat your child's scoliosis.

First of all, if you'd like to check your child for scoliosis at home, you can use the Adams forward bending test to check the alignment of your child's spine. We have a video showing you exactly what to do - you can watch it below.

Remember, no one's body is perfectly straight and symmetrical, but if you do notice an unevenness that's out of the ordinary, you should get in touch with your GP right away.

If your child is suffering from scoliosis, there are things you can do to help your child cope with scoliosis while they're at school. You can read our helpful tips by clicking the button below.

Coping with Scoliosis in School >

We've helped hundreds of school children with scoliosis to improve their curved spines. Give us a call on 0207 488 4428 if you'd like to speak to one of our therapists about your child's condition and potential treatment options.

Noonan syndrome and scoliosis

Noonan syndrome is a congenital disorder that can impact the formation and development of several areas of the body.

Characterised by a variety of distinctive features – including facial abnormalities, stunted height and heart defects – Noonan syndrome is caused by a mutation of one or more genes.

According to the NHS, it's estimated that the number of children born with Noonan syndrome is somewhere between 1 in 1000 and 1 in 2500. The condition affects all ethnicities and sexes equally.

Notably, children with Noonan syndrome are also more susceptible to spinal conditions such as scoliosis.

 

Scoliosis as a result of Noonan syndrome

In 2001, a Korean study carried out by the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in Seoul National University Hospital scientifically proved the correlation between scoliosis and Noonan syndrome.

Of the 60 patients with Noonan syndrome included in this study, 30% were found to have spinal deformities. Of those patients, two patients had congenital deformities, while the remaining 16 were diagnosed with scoliosis.

Based on the evidence provided, the study concluded that scoliosis with an associated thoracic lordosis occurs more frequently in Noonan syndrome than had been previously reported.

Today the relationship is well-documented, and early assessment of children with Noonan syndrome is recommended to ensure prompt detection and advanced treatment of scoliosis symptoms.

 

Treating scoliosis in Noonan syndrome patients

We at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic treat scoliosis in people of all ages and backgrounds. Our non-surgical treatment courses are ideal for all manner of individuals, including those with Noonan syndrome.

Combining the tried and tested Schroth method with an assortment of additional complementary techniques, our ScolioGold programme is designed to promote natural correction of asymmetric posture without invasive surgery. Our treatment method has an unrivalled level of success, providing significant relief to most patients within just a few weeks.

Better still, our methods are continuously evolving in line with medical breakthroughs and non-surgical development, allowing us to modify and improve our programme as the scientific study of scoliosis advances.

Book a Consultation >>

International Day of the Girl

Celebrated annually on 11 October, International Day of the Girl Child is a globally-recognised date that marks the achievements of young women all over the world and promotes female empowerment while also highlighting the challenges that girls face.

 

Scoliosis in Girls

There are many different types of scoliosis, but overall, the condition is significantly more common in females than it is males. This is particularly true of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS).

According to the Scoliosis Association (UK), roughly 5 out of 6 AIS patients are female - that's over 80% of recorded cases.

 

Scoliosis Women Worldwide

While scoliosis does affect a disproportionate number of females in relation to men, women globally have managed to overcome their spinal curves and live healthy, normal lives. We know because we've seen it first-hand!

Women from all over the world have come to the Scoliosis SOS Clinic to benefit from our non-invasive treatment methods.

Take mother and daughter Pia and Lova, who travelled all the way from Sweden to our clinic in London, UK. Despite a 33-year age gap, both Pia (47) and Lova (14) both returned to Sweden with dramatic improvements, proving that you can always improve your quality of life, regardless of age.

 

Active Women Worldwide

Our non-surgical treatment courses haven't just helped our female patients to live more comfortably. We've also helped women across the UK to hang onto their sporting passions and live a more active lifestyle.

From footballers and rugby players to jockeys and kickboxers, Scoliosis SOS has helped all sorts of young sportswomen to overcome their condition and stay active.

 

Live a Better Life

But you don't need to be an athlete to feel the benefits of our ScolioGold treatment programme. Many girls and women have come through our doors simply looking to better their health and improve their quality of life.

Sara Capacchione came to our clinic when she was 9 years old. Her older brother had already been diagnosed with scoliosis, and when Sara's spine started to develop a curve, her family were keen to nip it in the bud. Here's her story:

 

By actively battling back against the negative effects of scoliosis, young women across the world have been able to live their best lives in spite of their spinal curvatures.

If you'd like to find out more about ScolioGold treatment, please call the Scoliosis SOS Clinic on 0207 488 4428.

More Success Stories   Book a Consultation

Children in school

Most cases of scoliosis develop when the patient is between 10 and 15 years old. While the spine's curvature may be relatively mild to begin with, it can continue to get worse over the years that follow.

Currently, scoliosis tests are not compulsory in UK schools, but you can still check whether your child has scoliosis yourself. The Adams forward bending test is relatively easy to perform, but if you do think your child has scoliosis, you should get a second opinion from a GP.

 

Helping Your Child Cope with Scoliosis in School

School can be a stressful time for young children and teenagers alike, with friends, teachers and parents all contributing to the pressure in their own ways. A curved spine can make the average school day even more challenging - pupils with scoliosis might find sitting down or standing up for long periods uncomfortable, plus they might feel insecure about their appearance.

Here are a few suggestions that might make coping with scoliosis in school a little easier.

Communication

Start by speaking to your child to find out what issues their scoliosis is causing them at school. If you can establish an open line of conversation with your child, you'll be more likely to know right away if something's wrong.

Encourage your child to discuss their condition with their classmates so that they can understand what is going on and offer their support. Many of our patients have given in-class presentations about their treatment experiences, giving their peers an opportunity to learn about scoliosis and ask questions in a safe, relaxed environment.

Speak to Staff Members

Notify teachers about your child's condition. They might make allowances for your child to move around during lessons. PE teachers, in particular, might be able to make tweaks to their lesson plan so that your child's condition can be handled discreetly during PE lessons.

Pain Relief

If your child says that their scoliosis is causing them pain while they're at school, speak to your GP about pain relief. The doctor may be able to provide medication to help your child get through each school day comfortably. Also, where possible, make sure your child has comfortable shoes, feels comfortable in their uniform, and periodically ask them if their pain has got worse. If so, it might be time to pursue scoliosis treatment.

Exercises

If your child is embarrassed about wearing a scoliosis brace to school, or if the prospect of scoliosis surgery is too frightening, we encourage you to explore the exercise-based treatment options that we offer here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic. Always inspire and allow time for your child to do exercises to improve their scoliosis after school.

We've helped lots of children and young adults to improve their curved spines. Call 0207 488 4428 to speak to one of our expert Patient Care Coordinators, or use the links below to find out more!

Before & After Photos   Book a Consultation

Mild Scoliosis in Child

If your child has recently been diagnosed with mild scoliosis, you have probably been given two options.

Option 1 is usually observation, which means that your child will attend check-up appointments every 6 months so that the doctor can track the progress of their condition. In other words, do nothing and wait for the size of the curve to increase. Scoliosis does tend to be a progressive condition, and an adolescent with scoliosis will usually get worse very quickly, especially if they still have lots of growing left to do.

So what's option 2? Well, depending on your child's age and the severity of their curve, they may be offered a scoliosis brace. Braces do vary, but they are usually hard, corset-style shells that must be worn for 23 hours a day in order to achieve the maximum benefit.

Wearing a scoliosis brace can be an effective way of preventing the curve's progression, but only if used in combination with exercise. If the patient doesn't exercise, bracing can lead to muscle wastage, and patients often flop back into their scoliotic posture once they're out of the brace because certain muscles weren't being used and are no longer able to support the spine.

ScolioGold: A Third Option

The specific scoliosis exercises taught here at Scoliosis SOS are geared towards strengthening the muscles surrounding the patient's spine. Our ScolioGold exercise programme works extremely well in combination with bracing - not only does it help patients to keep their muscles strong in preparation for coming out of the brace, it also educates them and helps them to understand their condition, enabling them to help themselves going forward.

If your child has recently been diagnosed with scoliosis, please contact us today for advice and information on the treatment we provide.

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