Scoliosis in Teens: What a Back Brace Can and Can’t Accomplish

Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine curves to the left side of the body or the right side. While many cases can be mild, others can require surgery. For teens who have cases that are somewhere in the middle, a back brace may be able to help.

While a back brace won’t reverse the condition, it may help prevent the condition from worsening. As a scoliosis specialist, Patrick S. McNulty, MD, of McNulty Spine can help your teenager get the proper treatment for their condition.

In this blog, Dr. McNulty discusses what scoliosis is and how a back brace may be able to help. 

Scoliosis and its effects

The most common type of scoliosis affects about 3 teens out of every 100. There isn’t a consensus on what causes it in teens, but since it can run in families, many experts believe there is a genetic component. It’s suspected that the growth surges and hormonal changes some teens experience can interfere with their body’s self-reporting systems. When this happens, natural correction messages may not be sent, which may then permit a curvature to continue or worsen.

Scoliosis can also develop due to neuromuscular diseases, such as muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy, or because of injury or birth anomalies. For many teens who have this condition, medical monitoring is all that’s needed if their curvature remains mild. In more advanced cases — such as ones in which the condition may cause breathing and heart issues — surgery may be required. Between these extremes are the patients who may benefit from a back brace.

What back braces can and can’t do

A back brace won’t reverse the condition, but it may help prevent it from worsening. The most important element that makes a back brace effective is wearing it for the amount of time recommended. Since back braces can sometimes be uncomfortable, compliance can be an issue. So choosing a brace that’s comfortable and that fits the lifestyle of the wearer is crucial.

If your teen has scoliosis or if you suspect they do, Dr. McNulty can help no matter the root cause or severity of the condition. A certified spinal surgeon, Dr. McNulty can explore conservative treatments all the way through surgical options. To see if a back brace or any other option may help your teenager, book an appointment online or over the phone with McNulty Spine today.  Dr. McNulty also plans on implementing new technology called the vertebral body tether. This is a treatment that allows teenagers to grow and allow correction of the curve, while still maintaining motion.  This is surgery, but not the classic major surgery typical for scoliosis.

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