June is National Scoliosis Awareness Month, an awareness initiative that helps to jumpstart a summer season primed for identifying scoliosis symptoms. In an effort to assist health care providers and parents in screening for signs of scoliosis, Shriners Hospitals for Children – Shreveport staff members conduct a variety of educational programs on scoliosis – most recently to a gathering of hundreds of Louisiana nurses at the Louisiana School Nurse Association’s annual gathering. In the following Q&A, presenter and Outpatient Clinic Director Kim Blankenship MSN, RN, CWS, NEA-BC, addresses questions common to scoliosis and screenings.
What constitutes scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a spine deformity in which the spine curves from side to side (laterally). If the degree of curvature is greater than 10 degrees, it is considered scoliosis.
What are the most common indicators of scoliosis?
The primary visual indicators of scoliosis include shoulders that are at different heights when standing straight, one side of the hip appearing higher or more prominent than the other, an uneven rib cage, one shoulder blade protruding more than the other, or even the whole body leaning to one side.
What age is best to begin screening?
Scoliosis will often develop between ages 10 to 15, so screening during this developmental time frame is important. While scoliosis can obviously affect both girls and boys, girls are far more likely to develop scoliosis as an adolescent.
Why is summer ideal for screening?
It is always a good idea for medical professionals and parents to keep an eye out for symptoms of scoliosis. However, summer months certainly help with identifying visual cues as kids are more likely to be wearing light clothing or swimsuits.
If I suspect scoliosis, what should I do?
If you feel as though a child is exhibiting an indicator of scoliosis, simply call us to schedule an evaluation. Our physicians and staff will evaluate the child and determine any measure of curvature. Depending on the curve and other factors, our physicians will recommend a course of action that could include simple observation, regular X-rays, bracing, or consideration of surgery.
To refer a patient, please call our patient referral line at 1-800-830-0606.