Childhood & Teenage Scoliosis: What Are My Treatment Options?

Treatment options for childhood & juvenile scoliosis.

Did you know that 3 percent of Americans deal with an abnormal curvature of the spine on a regular basis? The worst part is that up to 9 million people in the U.S. have a curved spine too.

Is your child struggling with childhood scoliosis? To tell you the truth, scoliosis in children can start as early as 10 to 15 years of age.

If you want to find out how to treat scoliosis, check out our thorough review of treatment options!

Childhood Scoliosis: Evaluation and Prognosis

Don’t know a thing about juvenile scoliosis?

Have no fear—we’ve got your back (literally!) All jokes aside, juvenile scoliosis occurs to children between the ages of four and 10 years old. That means that up to 15 percent of people with scoliosis were diagnosed by pediatricians when they were kids.

Fact: once children reach adolescence, their spinal condition turns into what is called “adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.”

Now that we’ve got that covered, girls tend to dominate the whole adolescent idiopathic scoliosis category. On top of that, young women that are affected by scoliosis in adolescence often have spines that curve towards the right.

How on earth do you evaluate childhood scoliosis?

We’re really glad that you asked. Similar to infantile silicosis, your child’s pediatric spinal surgeon will typically order a magnetic resonance imaging scan, or an MRI.

Of course, the magnetic resonance imaging scan is only ordered if the surgeon spots a real curvature in your child’s spine. This is discovered through things like radiographic exams and physical exams. Generally speaking, about one out of five kids under the age of 10 years old will have a significant curve in their spine, pointing to an underlying condition in their spinal cord.

It gets worse: sometimes, the curvature in your child’s spine can lead to something that’s called Arnold-Chiari malformation. This occurs when the position of your kid’s brainstem is much lower than that of regular kids. Plus, syringomyelia can result in a spinal cord cyst as well.

The best part is that a quality magnetic resonance imaging scan can address these issues for you! 

Scoliosis Treatment Methods: Observation

So, what are the treatment methods for children with scoliosis?

Fair question. As we mentioned above, magnetic resonance imaging scans can evaluate your kid’s scoliosis. Then, the surgeon will refer them to a pediatric neurosurgeon.

At that point, their condition can be determined as neuromuscular scoliosis. Luckily, neurological surgery can even help to fix the curvature of your child’s spine. Once your kid’s spine is properly diagnosed, your doctor will usually recommend a few courses of action, which include things like:

Now, let’s talk about the observation method.

In case you didn’t know, observation is the first step that a spinal surgeon will take to treat a young kid’s spinal abnormality. First of all, the surgeon will have to figure out if the curvature of the spine is getting progressively worse. While some kids will have an unchanging and stable spine, others will have a spine that will get even more curved as time goes on.

In addition to looking at any changes in your child’s spine, the pediatric surgeon will also order several tests to further determine the condition of your kid’s spinal curvature. Don’t be surprised if your child’s doctor advises that you visit other physicians too, including:

  • Geneticists
  • Cardiologists
  • Pulmonologists

What happens next?

Normally, your child’s pediatric surgeon will see your kid every couple of months to have new side view and front view X-rays created. Then, the pediatric surgeon will measure the curve of your child’s spine again, comparing them to older X-ray exams.

During this observation process, your child’s pediatric surgeon will watch them for any major changes!

Scoliosis Treatment Methods: Bracing

Okay, so the observation method didn’t work for your child or adolescent. Should you give up hope?

Great news: some spinal curvatures will get better over time. Better yet, certain adolescents who experienced infantile scoliosis had their symptoms completely evaporate at this stage.

Has your child’s scoliosis gotten worse?

If so, then your child’s spinal physician will probably recommend a different kind of treatment altogether. Following a series of bending radiograph images, your child’s flexibility will be assessed, which will help the doctor to figure out the next step of their treatment.

For most kids and teens with scoliosis, bracing their spine is going to be the next logical step. First things first, the type of underarm brace that your child will be prescribed will depend upon two things:

  • The age of your kid
  • The scoliosis center that you visit

In spite of the fact that there are a few different kinds of braces, they all have pretty similar rates of success. Even though there are a lot of options to choose from, your pediatric surgeon will usually choose one that fits their experience the best, which includes the following brace types:

For those of you who are unaware, the Wilmington brace is custom fit to manage people dealing with thoracolumbosacral orthosis. Plus, it has unique molds to correct and push the spinal curve into place.

On the other hand, the Boston brace has pads inside of its bracing to push the spinal curve into alignment. Moving forward, the Milwaukee brace was one of the first ones used to treat childhood scoliosis. However, due to its bulky design, it’s probably not the most popular brace recommended to kids and teens.

Recommended to wear 24/7, the Milwaukee brace aligns thoracolumbar and lumbar curves!

Scoliosis Treatment Methods: Casting and Traction

Unlike adult scoliosis, childhood scoliosis hits kids and teens around the earlier stages of their lives. To treat this, some pediatric spinal surgeons recommend casting and traction procedures.

What is casting, you ask?

The answer is simple: casting is used to slow down the need for spinal braces. This works by fixing the spinal deformity enough to let surgeons re-institute bracing. But here’s the thing.

When it comes to full-time casts, they can’t be removed at any time. However, lots of parents still think that casts are better than braces because they reduce the need for compliance. Plus, braces are super hard for young children to endure anyway.

Some spinal centers treat kids with full-body casts as a type of brace. Depending on where the cast is placed, your child or teen might need a little bit of anesthesia to build up the flexibility of their spinal curve. In addition, this can help to make your child much comfier during the cast application process.

How long are spinal casts worn?

To put it clearly, cast are switched out every six months. Although you can’t take them off in the shower, casts offer the most superb management of spinal curves imaginable.

Let’s take a moment to mention the traction method. If your kid or teen has a spinal deformity that is not suitable for casting or bracing, traction seems to be your best option. This is especially true if your child suffers from the following ailments:

  • Spinal weakness
  • Skin intolerance
  • Chest wall intolerance
  • Mental retardation
  • Stiff or large curves that don’t respond well to serial casting

To fix this, something called halo-gravity traction is used to correct spinal deformities. Also, traction helps to increase respiratory breathing as well. Not only that, but the traction method has actually become more popular in spinal centers.

Scoliosis Treatment Methods: In Situ Spinal Fusion

Is spine pain making your teen or child’s life a living nightmare?

When all else fails, spinal surgery is always a great option. For those of you who are feeling confused, surgery is recommended for kids whose spines do not react well to casting or bracing.

Obviously, it’s the pediatric surgeon’s job to address this issue, figuring out how to stop the spine curvature progression without impacting future spine growth. Even though this is impossible to avoid sometimes, most surgical operations work well by stopping irregular spinal growth in its tracks with spinal fusion.

You might be wondering: what is in situ spinal fusion? In situ spinal fusion is a surgical procedure that is used to stop abnormal spinal growth.

In a nutshell, in situ spinal fusion can either be done through the chest or from the back. During this procedure, spinal joints are taken out of the body, replaced by a reliable bone graft. Once the bone is completely healed, it will be replaced by one stable bone instead.

What’s the goal?

To line up your child’s spine vertebrae into one complete segment, which will prevent it from growing in a crooked direction. Since the bone will be fused where it is, there will be very little spinal correction going on with this procedure.

For teens or kids who decide to undergo in situ spinal operations, expect them to have the following instruments installed into their spinal cords:

  • Rods
  • Hooks
  • Screws

This will help to strengthen your kid’s spine, acting as an “internal brace” for their new bone graft. One perk of undergoing in situ spinal fusion is that their bones will fuse together into a solid mass. Although they might have to wear a spinal brace afterward, it’s only a temporary treatment!

Scoliosis Treatment Methods: Growing Rods

Sick and tired of chronic back or neck pain holding your child back?

If that’s the case, then you might want to consider getting growing rods implemented into your kid’s or teen’s spine. 

Most spinal operations focus on stopping normal spinal growth. This can hurt:

  • The growth of the thorax
  • The development of the lungs
  • The size of the trunk

That’s why so many pediatric spinal surgeons recommend growing rods. Instead of stopping spinal growth completely, this can allow the spine to continue growing at a healthy rate. Growing rods can help to prevent the damage of spinal growth tissue by applying several rods to the abnormal spinal curvature too.

Attaching rods to the area above the spine, screws and hooks are connected to the area below the spine. Every couple of months, your child or teen will return to their pediatric spinal surgeon to have their rods lengthened by at least one centimeter to maintain their spine’s growth.

When it’s all said and done, the spinal surgeon will perform an outpatient surgical procedure via a tiny incision. Once this service is finished, most kids will have to maintain a spinal brace to keep their instrumentation safe as well.

What happens when a child grows older and their spine grows along with them?

When that occurs, the pediatric surgeon will take out the instrumentation that they’ve installed earlier. Next, they will work on performing an in situ spinal fusion surgical procedure. Although this used to have a high rate of complication, most issues related to this procedure are due to instrumentation problems like:

  • Rod breakage 
  • Hook dislodgment

Don’t fret—you don’t have to be concerned about this happening to your child. That’s because spinal surgery techniques have greatly improved over time!

You Don’t Have to Let Childhood Scoliosis Win

Admit it: watching your kid or teen suffer from childhood scoliosis is beyond hard to watch for dedicated parents everywhere.

So, what are you going to do about it?

From observation and bracing to casting and traction, there are several options available to straighten your child’s spine. Don’t forget about in situ spinal fusion and growing rods as well.

If your kid is still struggling with mild scoliosis, you don’t have to let childhood scoliosis win!

5 Reasons Why You Need a Fire Pit (Now!)

Spice up your backyard with a fire pit.

On the hunt for outdoor fire pit ideas?

According to a recent survey, backyard fire pit decor is one the most sought after outdoor design features. Want to get in on this fire trend?

Clearly, a fire pit is the perfect gathering and entertainment spot. If you’re installing a fire pit, here are five fire pit ideas for an amazing and beautiful backyard!

1. Match Your Fire Pit to Your Seats

One of our favorite backyard fire pit ideas is to match it to your seating arrangement. To complement your tropical landscape design, coordinate your butterfly chairs with a stainless steel fire pit. Better yet, buy one with interlocking panels. 

If color isn’t your thing, then pair your seating with your concrete basin for a rustic yet modern feel. Enjoy the floating effect that its freestanding bowl shape creates!

2. Make Your Fire Pit Cozy

For an inherently warm vibe, add a built-in seating arrangement to your outdoor fireplace area. The result is this: a down-to-earth, intimate, and modern atmosphere in your backyard.

Bonus points for using rich hues and raw materials to enhance your neutral landscaping design.

3. Hang up Patio Lighting

No matter what size your backyard is, it’s the little things that make it feel unique. That being said, all that you have to do is hang out patio lighting to transport your visitors elsewhere. While you’re at it, surround your fire pit with wooden furniture, sheepskin throws, and pillows.

For those of you with smaller backyards, you might want to purchase an enclosed fireplace instead. The benefits of enclosed fire pits include taking them on the go. However, nothing beats having your own fire pit in your backyard!

4. Keep It Simple

If you are searching for an inviting and lowkey fire pit, then you can’t go wrong with a traditional cast-iron bowl. To keep it simple, ditch your white butterfly chairs for black canvas ones.

In the end, this easy trick will give your fire pit hangout area a much edgier look.

5. Surround It With Natural Rocks

Want to make your fire pit area feel extra special?

The answer is simple: surround it with natural rocks. Enclosing your fire pit area with a layer of rocks is a great way to maximize its serene feel. Not to mention that a rock enclosure lends a rustic element to your backyard space as well.

If you want to up the ante, look out for an iron fire pit in a classic round shape. Bonus points for choosing one in a light terra cotta color too!

Looking for Fire Pit Ideas?

Looking for fire pit ideas?

We’ve got you covered.

Fortunately for you, it doesn’t take much time and money to completely transform your patio or backyard with a fire pit. To kick it up a notch, add some string lighting or surround it with rocks. Whatever design you choose, make it yours!

The Brain-Gut Connection: Functional Medicine, Digestion, & Abdominal Massage

brain-gut connection
The brain-gut connection

Since your body is closely connected to your brain, this connection regulates everything from your diet to your digestion. Speaking of your gut, everyone suffers from digestive upset or nervous colitis in their life.

While many have chronic issues that they take medication for, they have no idea that functional medicine can help bring relief. From IBS treatment to stomach massage benefits, find out more about the body and brain connection below!

The Brain-Gut Connection & Digestion

Back in the day, scientists focused on treating different areas of the body separately to study them in different ways. But nowadays, researchers are realizing that every part of the body is connected. Thus, nothing can be treated in complete isolation.

For instance, the “brain-gut connection” is a striking example of this natural phenomenon. When it comes to the relationship between the gut and the brain, it might be a little difficult to understand at first. Here’s the breakdown.

First of all, the brain functions by sending signals to the gastrointestinal or digestive tract. The signals can either be sent through the:

  • The sympathetic nervous system, which controls the fight or flight impulse
  • The parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the rest and digest impulse

Here’s the craziest part.

The speed that these signals are sent through your body controls how your body absorbs nutrients and how fast it digests food. Not to mention that it impacts how your body secretes digestive juices too. All this is connected to the amount of inflammation in your body’s digestive system as well.

Let us explain. Confusingly enough, your digestive system also has a nervous system. Yes, you read that right.

Also known as the enteric nervous system, it contains about 100 million nerve cells. This part of your body is located near the gastrointestinal tract.

That being said, it works by receiving inputs from both the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems. But here is the catch – it doesn’t need either them to function properly.

Besides this, the enteric nervous system is connected to millions of other immune cells. Not only do your immune cells convey information, but they also survey your digestive system. Whether your GI tract is infected or your stomach is bloated, your body will communicate it!

Understanding Functional Medicine

No matter if you are interested in alternative healing or medicine, you must understand the link between your brain and your body. The best place to start is to consider functional medicine as a cure for your stomach problems.

Thanks to the connection between your brain and your gut, certain tools can control stomach problems, including:

  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
  • Breathing exercises
  • Yoga digestive poses
  • Gut-directed hypnotherapy

It gets better. These helpful tools can also improve gastrointestinal issues, boost mood, and lower anxiety. How so?

The answer is simple: by decreasing your body’s response to stress. This happens when the sympathetic nervous system is dampened. In turn, your parasympathetic response is enhanced, which decreases inflammation in your body.

Looking for more integrative approaches?

You’re in luck. For starters, you should know that particular foods can trigger special reactions in your gut. If that sounds if this sounds familiar to you, you might be suffering from IBS, low-FODMAP, or GERD.

In addition to this, your everyday diet plays a huge role in your gut’s microbiome health. For instance, eating a more clean diet with fewer carbs and red meat instantly leads to a healthier microbiome. The result is this: a significant reduction in inflammation in your intestines.

This is a great way to reduce symptoms such as depression or fatigue that come with weak gut microbiomes. Also, having a healthy diet can reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

We can’t emphasize this enough: everyone’s body is different. All this to say that there’s nothing wrong with trying holistic approaches to reduce GI symptoms. Besides, it doesn’t hurt to reestablish a positive connection between your mind and your gut either.

Natural Bloating Remedy: Abdominal Massage

Curious about how abdominal massage helps digestion?

Allow us to explain. In case you didn’t know, massage therapy has a ton of benefits on the social, mental, physical well-being of people. Besides this, other benefits of abdominal massage include:

  • Relieving constipation 
  • Improving digestive functioning
  • Reducing bloating

Let’s face facts. Abdominal massages relieve constipation by relaxing the muscles in your stomach. As a result, your constipation is alleviated and your digestion is stimulated.

This is especially true for those who have had recent surgery. Does this sound like you?

If so, try getting a stomach massage. This can reduce constipation symptoms and control bowel movements. It can also decrease the time between bowel movements.

Better yet, add some essential oils to the mix to boost the benefits of your stomach massage. But how does stomach massage improve digestive functioning?

We’re glad that you asked. Strangely enough, receiving stomach massages can reduce the amount of liquid that you have in your stomach. Thus, your constipation and abdominal circumference shrink dramatically.

But here’s the kicker: abdominal massagers can reduce bloating as well. That’s not all. This works by reducing the amount of fluid that’s stored in your abdominal cavity.

After receiving stomach massages several times a week, expect to have your bloating go down significantly. Also, your overall being, anxiety, and deep depression might be cured too!

Learn More About the Body and Brain Connection

Want to learn more about the body and brain connection?

Thankfully, we have everything that you need to know in our handy guide. Instead of leaning on traditional medicine, why not try some of these alternatives next time your stomach hurts?

We promise that you won’t regret it!