If your child has just been diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis, you’re probably trying to figure out what to do next. This decision is probably made more difficult by the fact that you’re probably still trying to separate scoliosis fact from fiction – and unfortunately, your doctor might not be up to date on all the current realities about scoliosis. There are a series of myths about scoliosis, and they’re often used by doctors to justify expensive, invasive spinal fusion surgery, even though it might not be the best option for your child.
One of the big myths doctors like to spread about scoliosis is that without surgery, the curvature might continue to develop and could eventually crush your child’s lungs or heart. It’s an effective myth, because your child’s health is your foremost concern. Unfortunately, it’s just not true. Today, with regular checkups and with how carefully doctors are able to observe patients, the risk of a curve growing to such extreme proportions is effectively zero – and surgery isn’t even necessary! By preemptively beginning a comprehensive treatment plan, including the proper non-invasive scoliosis car and improved diet, one’s curvature can be controlled, or even reversed, well before it causes any serious physical problems or pain.
Another big myth is that spinal fusion surgery will make your child healthier. Again, this just isn’t true. Spinal fusion surgery just treats a symptom of a larger problem, not the underlying problem. Idiopathic scoliosis is a complex disorder, one that involves the brain, the spine, and the muscles of the back – but surgery only treats the spine! While it’s important to treat the biggest symptom of the problem, by only treating the curve, surgery makes it likely that, over time, the curve will begin growing again. Once again, a comprehensive approach will lead to long term health. Retaining the brain and the back muscles, improving brain function, and eating a healthier diet will all make your child healthier, while also improving their scoliosis – and the benefits will be lifelong.
Doctors like to spread the belief that after spinal fusion surgery, you’re cured, and you can just go back to your normal life, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. After 20 years, nearly 50% of spinal fusion surgeries have failed. And spinal fusion surgery carries some very serious limitations, too. Your child won’t be able to do many physical activities for 12 months, while the fusion heals. Even after this first year, they’ll be limited in their flexibility, and will have to avoid certain high impact sports and activities. They run the risk of further complications if the fusion breaks, and many patients report battling lifelong pain after surgery. Gentle exercises, as part of a physical therapy program, will allow your child to continue participating in the sports and activities they love, while also controlling the symptoms of scoliosis. It’ll keep them pain free, and it will be significantly less expensive, for you, than surgery would be.
The last myth doctors like to tell is that spinal fusion surgery is your only option, the only thing that works. In reality, spinal fusion surgery should be a last resort. In these severe cases, spinal fusion surgery might not be necessary, but otherwise, like all invasive surgeries, it should be avoided. The complications and costs of an invasive surgery are just too high, especially for a child who is still developing.
Don’t let a doctor confuse you with myths about scoliosis. Instead, stick to the facts: if treated properly, scoliosis will not lead to pain, deformity, or serious health problems. Spinal fusion surgery will not make your child healthier, and it will lead to lifelong complications. Surgery is far from the only option – in fact, it should be a last resort. If recently diagnosed with scoliosis, your child should follow a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses the root causes of scoliosis, not just the symptoms. It will allow them to stay active, while also controlling, and perhaps reversing, their curvature – all for a fraction of the cost of surgery.