Scoliosis bracing for adults could make sense at an adult age, but after many years down the road, how could surgery be avoided?
Often, parents of children with scoliosis are rushed into making a choice before they have the time to gather the information needed to make informed decisions about long-term therapies for scoliosis.
How Do Scoliosis Treatments Affect Patients in the Long Run?
Below are the long-term therapies for scoliosis and how these affect patients:
1. Back Bracing
A 12-year-old scoliosis patient’s muscles on the back had deteriorated so much that she was unable to stand on her own. After many years, most of those who wear scoliosis bracing for adults are required to wear braces for more than 20 hours every day.
That long-term stress on a child’s body might lead to irreversible physical changes.
Bracing, on the other hand, doesn’t correct long-term curvature. The curve size of patients changes when they start wearing braces. But, only a few have a significant increase in their curves’ size. For example, the average curve can increase by 4 degrees over the course of 25 years after wearing scoliosis bracing for adults.
Scoliosis bracing for adults may have detrimental long-term repercussions, such as:
- Muscle atrophy. Muscles of the back are the first defense line against curve advancement and back discomfort in those who have scoliosis and live with it. Bracing for long periods of time weakens the nerves and muscles around the spine, which may lead to chronic injury.
Loss of postural stability occurs when the spine becomes reliant on a scoliosis bracing for adults for support. When the brace is removed, curves tend to accelerate more quickly than before.
- Deterioration of joints. The spine stiffens when immobilized. A lack of physical activity may lead to joint stiffness and degenerative conditions, which can restrict mobility. That causes discomfort in old age. Back discomfort, restricted spinal function, and significant impairment can influence 3 out of 4 individuals many years after wearing scoliosis bracing for adults.
- Growth of the spine was halted. In some of the spine’s most crucial developmental years, braces for children have to be worn, whereas scoliosis bracing for adults are worn later. Braces function by relieving pressure on one curve’s side while stimulating growth on the opposing side.
But, if the spine isn’t constantly pressed on sides, then bones can’t expand. This might have a long-term effect on the body’s biomechanics.
2. Spinal Fusion Surgery
After spinal fusion, most patients have long-term problems. Scoliosis surgery can cause implants to fail or get dislodged, which results in spinal damage and the need for numerous procedures to correct it. Deep infections can occur even after 10 years from surgery.
Scoliosis surgery does not have any long-term repercussions. However, just 1 in 3 people who undergo surgery retain many of its advantages in the next 10 years. 1 in 5 patients may need further surgery. Spinal fusion surgery also has long-term problems, such as:
- Loss of mobility. When treating the scoliosis curvature, doctors utilize steel rods to permanently alter the spine’s biomechanics. It’s impossible for the vertebrae to move in any direction after they have been fused. Patients who have spinal surgery should expect to lose anything from 20% to 60% of their flexibility within their spines at best.
That is different from when wearing scoliosis bracing for adults. It’s also possible for neighboring vertebrae, which are under more stress than usual, to become unstable and more susceptible to degeneration.
- Lifelong disability. As a result of the surgery’s invasiveness and potential for irreversible injury to spinal nerves, those who undergo spinal fusion may suffer from anything from leg weakness to loss of bladder control or bowel, and paralysis or quadriplegia.
- Chronic pain. Approximately 1/3 of spinal fusion patients suffer from back pain after seven years after their procedure. It’s possible for patients to suffer from persistent pain because of nerve injury, joint degeneration, implant failure, or something else.
- Blood Loss. The spinal fusion surgery for scoliosis is very intrusive, so it’s unavoidable to end up suffering from blood loss.
- Paraplegia or paralysis is also a possibility. The risk of getting paralyzed after surgery is minimal, but it remains a major issue. The loss of motor control or sensory may occur because of the disease. There must be constant monitoring of the stress applied on the spinal cord to minimize danger.
3. Activity Suits
There are alternatives to bracing for children or scoliosis bracing for adults and surgery. Activity suits stabilize or improve curves in 9 out of 10 patients. 2 out of every 3 children who wear a suit see a drop in the size of their curve. The advantages of wearing activity suits are:
- Improved mobility. Activity suits use the ways the body naturally moves to create the flexibility and strength required to maintain a healthy posture. To begin with, exercises aim to loosen up joints and muscles by focusing on the spine.
- A better understanding of how the body works. Misaligned postural patterns that promote scoliosis progression may be addressed with activity suits. Reducing strain on joints while relieving tension on some of the other body parts reduces pain and discomfort.
- Improved interaction between the brain and muscle. As the body’s automatic reflexes are elicited by specific activities, new neural pathways are formed between brain and the muscles. After a few repetitions, movements become second nature to the spine, allowing it to spontaneously regulate and even lessen its curvature.
Avoid Scoliosis Surgery
There is a tendency to focus only on the scoliosis problem when trying to treat it. The first objective shouldn’t be beating the evolution of the curve. Consider the long-term impact on quality of life while deciding on a long-term treatment strategy.
If you have any questions about scoliosis not covered in this article, feel free to reach out and we’ll be happy to help.