Scoliosis is a very common issue in both children, adults, and the elderly. It is estimated that scoliosis affects around 2-3% of the population in the United States. Some argue that the number might be even higher since many individuals go through their lives without ever receiving a proper diagnosis.
If you’re suffering from this issue or know someone who is, this guide might be helpful. We’ll discuss different scoliosis types, as well as popular treatment options. Let’s get right in.
What Is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a medical condition where one’s spine has a sideway curvature. Some get it as a side symptom of other conditions such as muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy, while others get it in early childhood.
The vast majority of scoliosis cases are mild. However, scoliosis curvatures can worsen over time, especially if not treated properly. Mild scoliosis can result in some back pain. On the down side, severe scoliosis can be seriously debilitating. Larger spine curvatures can even lead to difficulties in breathing.
Depending on the severity of the curvature, scoliosis treatment can either involve simple exercises to relieve back pain or include additional treatment like braces or surgery. Common scoliosis symptoms are:
- Uneven shoulders
- One shoulder blade protrudes more
- Uneven waist or hips
- Uneven ribs
Scoliosis Types and Levels
Scoliosis can also appear as a consequence of dealing with some other medical issues like cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, or the marfan syndrome. When we look at it as a standalone condition, we can divide it into a couple of scoliosis types:
- Congenital scoliosis – congenital scoliosis is something that people are born with. Usually it stems from a bone malformation which results in spinal deformities.
- Neuromuscular scoliosis – this type of scoliosis occurs when individuals suffer from medical issues that damage the body’s power to control the muscles that support the spine.
- Idiopathic adolescent scoliosis – this scoliosis type is more common in females and, unlike congenital, it develops in adolescence.
- Adult de novo scoliosis – this type of scoliosis happens with individuals who have never been previously diagnosed or suffered from scoliosis in the past. Hence the name ‘’newly adult scoliosis’’
- Degenerative scoliosis – occurs in older individuals whose spine is becoming weaker due to age-related damage.
- Traumatic scoliosis – happens as a consequence of a physical damage to the body like a car accident, or any other accident for that matter.
- Pathological scoliosis – occurs when there are tumors near the spine, which put pressure on a spine and result in a curvature.
The severity of your scoliosis is measured by observing the angle at which your spine curves. Here’s a quick scoliosis degree chart:
- 0-10° – no scoliosis present, no treatment required
- 10-25° – mild scoliosis, should be observed over time, no immediate treatment required
- 25-40° – moderate scoliosis, usually requires the patient to wear braces
- 40-60+° – severe scoliosis, either requires a boston brace or spinal fusion surgery
Can Braces Help with Treating Scoliosis?
If you suffer from scoliosis and are interested in braces as a possible treatment option, there are some key things you should be aware of. The first and the most important is the difference between treatments that hold and correct the spine.
Holding treatments include wearing traditional scoliosis bracing or undergoing a spinal fusion surgery. These traditional methods were specifically designed to hold the spine. While these procedures are a quick and relatively easy way to fix the issue, they do come at a price.
First and foremost, spinal surgeries are always risky and have a relatively long downtime. Secondly, having your spine held so straight can decrease its flexibility and strength.
On the other hand, we have correction methods that include chiropractic manipulation, exercises, and therapy. These methods are great for scoliosis rehabilitation. Their downside is that they require regular treatment and exercise, which is time-consuming and potentially costly.
We also have modern corrective scoliosis braces, which are probably your most efficient and cost-effective option. Let’s learn more about them.
Scoliosis Braces for Adults
In adults, scoliosis braces are usually used for pain support and management. Depending on the level of scoliosis, different braces may be prescribed. The two most common scoliosis braces for adults are:
- Rigid – these require a full time wear, somewhere between 16 and 23 hours every day. Can potentially lead to muscle atrophy or spine degeneration.
- Flexible – flexible scoliosis braces are commonly used by patients who need support during sports and other physical activities.
Scoliosis Body Braces for Kids
Scoliosis braces work better for younger patients because their body hasn’t fully developed yet, and there’s time for their condition to improve or stabilize. It’s important to start early, to counteract the consequences as soon as possible.
A cool thing about braces today is that they can be visually customized by adding stickers, jewels, and other stuff. Your kids can have some fun too by customizing it themselves.
As a general rule, we usually recommend the option for custom scoliosis braces instead of shelf-ready. Custom scoliosis brace cost might be slightly higher, but it can prevent many issues in the long run.
Customized bracing will also work with your measurements precisely, which is why the solution will be more targeted and effective. Regular braces are fitted on a model, after which it is produced and sold. Once it gets to the user, the orthotist adds pads and other elements according to your diagnosis. This may lead to potential issues and discomfort.
Either way, combined with exercise, braces are probably the most effective way to treat or stabilize scoliosis. Make sure to consult your orthodontist before making any purchasing decisions.
While scoliosis is difficult to deal with at times, it’s certainly treatable. If you wear braces to correct your posture and support your back, and combine that with exercise, you can achieve great success and pain relief.
Align clinic has some of the best orthotists in the industry and we also do scoliosis braces. If you think this might be a good treatment option, book a free consultation call with one of our experts.
Stop by one of our many clinics across the US and find – drop us a visit to discuss possible therapy options.