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news News Monday, June 10, 2019 Monday, June 10, 2019 4:13 PM - Monday, June 10, 2019 4:13 PM

All about scoliosis

Your questions answered

All about scoliosis

In recognition of Scoliosis Awareness Month, we interviewed one of our pediatric orthopaedic spine surgeons, Daniel Bouton, M.D. We discussed scoliosis, from early detection to both operative and non-operative treatment options available at the Portland Shriners Hospital.

  • What is scoliosis?
    Scoliosis is a deformity of the spinal column. Traditionally it is defined as a curvature of the spine as seen from behind of at least 10 degrees. In addition to the curvature, there is also associated rotation or spinning of the spine.

  • What are some things parents should be on the lookout for to help screen for scoliosis?
    Scoliosis can be difficult to detect if you’re not looking for it, because it is mostly asymptomatic when the curve is smaller. Parents may notice something as simple as one shoulder that is higher than the other, or one shoulder blade that seems a little more prominent.

  • How is scoliosis diagnosed?
    Scoliosis may be suspected based on physical exam findings, particularly with the patient bending forward to look for rotation of the spine. The diagnosis is confirmed by X-rays of the spine to assess for any curvature.

  • Can you give a list of some of the scoliosis treatment options provided at the Portland Shriners Hospital?
    Portland Shriners Hospital offers the full gamut of scoliosis treatment from close observation, many different non-operative treatment strategies such as bracing and physical therapy, and finally, surgery if necessary. Every patient with scoliosis is different, and we are able to tailor our treatment to each child based on his or her situation and needs.

  • What support services do we provide to our patients who have scoliosis?
    We are happy to provide a wide range of support services for children with scoliosis. This condition is often diagnosed and treated in adolescence, and the diagnosis can create a lot of stress for the patient and his or her family. We will connect patients with reputable online support groups as well as to other patients who have gone through treatment. One of the key things that we do in our clinics is to screen for any associated concerns regarding each patient’s mental health and social situation with our patient-reported outcome measure questionnaires. This allows us to not only best treat the patient’s scoliosis, but to maximize the benefit of their treatment by being able to address any other underlying issues.

  • Why is it important to diagnose scoliosis early?
    The two main factors that guide treatment for scoliosis are the size of the curve and the amount of growth remaining for the child. If scoliosis is diagnosed when the curve is small, we can often be successful with non-operative treatment and avoid a surgery. However, as the patient grows and the curve grows, our options become more limited and sometimes surgery is necessary. However, smaller curves are often not noticed by the patient or their families, and so it is important for routine screening in an attempt to detect smaller curves at a younger age for our best chance of success.

  • What makes the Portland Shriners Hospital the best option for scoliosis care?
    I believe the Portland Shriners Hospital is the best option for scoliosis care because everything is under one roof. We really do personalize our treatment for each individual patient, and we have the resources and expertise to do so. No matter the treatment that is needed, you can get it here. We have specialized physical therapists, a brace shop, a low-radiation X-ray machine, outpatient and inpatient nursing and clinic staff who are experienced in treating scoliosis, as well as four surgeons who specialize in treating scoliosis. No matter how big or how small your child’s scoliosis may be, they can get the best care at Shriners Hospital.

  • Do you have any tips you could give kids or parents who were recently diagnosed with scoliosis?
    As a father of a young child myself, I understand that any new medical diagnosis for your child can seem daunting at first. I think when families first see an X-ray of their child’s spine with some curvature, it can be difficult to unsee that. My advice for parents would be to take a deep breath and gather as much information as possible before making any large decisions about treatment. Scoliosis treatment is often a marathon and not a sprint, as we usually will treat a child until they have completed their growth spurt. Because of that, I think it is best for the child if everyone (patient, parents and doctor) has the same goals in mind, and so an open and honest conversation about the pros and cons of different treatment options is crucial to ensure success.