Testing for scoliosis is very important for early detection and possible scoliosis treatment.
While many are aware of the importance of scoliosis screening, not many necessarily understand the process and may be wary of it.
Taking a detailed look at scoliosis testing can help make the whole process easier to understand.
Detecting Abnormal Spinal Curvature
The first, most important test when experiencing scoliosis symptoms is determining whether or not there is scoliosis, an abnormal curvature to the back. There are several methods used to detect scoliosis.
The most common scoliosis test is the Adams Forward Bend Test. In this method, the patient bends forward with arms relaxed and dangling. This test highlights upper back abnormalities as well as any other related shoulder blade, waist, or ribcage issues.
Imaging such as x-rays can help detect abnormal curvature in the lower back or from back to front. Occasionally, curves detected in an Adams test are nonstructural and not scoliosis. X-rays eliminate these curves from consideration.
Other scoliosis tests can also be done. Some tests require that patients jump up and down or walk on their toes or heels to highlight any variations in strength between one leg and the other. The length of the legs may be compared for unevenness. Sometimes, testing advances to neurological for spinal involvement.
Determining the Severity of the Curvature
The degree of abnormal curvature is a key component of scoliosis screening. The degree of twisting or curvature directly determines the severity of the condition. This important measurement is often taken using instruments or imaging.
The Inclinometer or Scoliometer measures abnormal torso twisting. The patient bends, similar to the Adams, until a curve in the upper back is observed and measured. Then the patient continues forward until curvature in the lower back is observed and measured. This test can show whether or not imaging is necessary.
With imaging such as x-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs), the exact degree and direction of abnormal curvature can be accurately and quickly determined – both laterally (to the sides) as well as from front to back. This method readily allows the physician to decide whether or not the abnormal curvature is or is not structural. Imaging can also be an important tool in determining how much the scoliosis has progressed.
Identifying the Stage of Progression
Vital to decisions for future treatment, the stage of the scoliosis progression must be determined. Using what is called the Risser sign, a physician can sometimes determine whether or not a child is still growing. If the Risser sign is low grade, there is still growth happening and there is potential for more progression of the abnormality. Age is also important to the progression of scoliosis; those who are past their growth stage are less likely to have progressive scoliosis.
Scoliosis testing and its methods help a physician, patient, and all involved to have a better understanding of this disease and its ultimate effect on the scoliosis patient. Knowing the difference between scoliosis testing methods can additionally make this experience less frightening and more proactive when seeking scoliosis treatment.
The Undeniable Importance of Scoliosis Screening
Scoliosis is now one of the most common spine deformities around. Depending on the country, from 2-4% of the population might be effected by this often eventually painful condition.
Routine screening used to be a mainstay in schools, but some countries are eliminating this important process. When it comes to your child’s health, it is vital that you understand the importance of scoliosis screening.
Screening Catches what the Eyes and Ears Cannot
Early, mild scoliosis may not cause any physical symptoms about which a child would complain. Aches and pains are often misinterpreted as growing pains. The discomfort from early scoliosis may be written off as simple strains from sports and the other physical activities in which this age of child is often involved. The parent may be completely unaware of any of the early symptoms of scoliosis, as may the child, were it not for scoliosis screening.
During the pre-teen or adolescent years, children are often more self-conscious and dress themselves, keeping parents unaware of possible progressive scoliosis. Changes in the curvature of the spine and protrusion of the ribs and shoulder blades may never been seen by the parents. Screening allows for specific examination of the spine, including x-rays, so that unseen developing scoliosis can be diagnosed and handled.
An Accurate and Inexpensive Solution
Scoliosis screening is particularly accurate for the condition of scoliosis. The testing process is highly sensitive, meaning that it easily detects scoliosis versus a normal back. The screening test is also very specific, eliminating wasteful and frightening false positives. This means that otherwise unnoticed scoliosis will be readily detected through an examination process.
If available, screening through a school is affordable as it enables this vital test without the need for the cost of a doctor’s visit. However, a parent can arrange scoliosis testing through their own private physician if they wish at little cost. The test is non-invasive and not frightening to the child as a benefit.
Screening for Scoliosis Diagnosis: The Sooner the Better
Children with undiagnosed scoliosis run the risk of progressing past the point of scoliosis treatment. The inherent flexibility of the younger spine allows for treatments such as bracing which may halt the twisting of the spine. As a person ages, the spine becomes rigid and inflexible. Once the spine loses its flexibility, surgery often becomes the only means to correcting spinal twisting – if any treatment is possible at all.
Children whose scoliosis is allowed to remain undetected and progressive can be crippled by its effects on the spine and muscles. Untreated children may even experience bullying and loss of self-image. Severe scoliosis can even be fatal as it can interfere with one’s ability to breathe.
Do Not Risk Your Child’s Health
Whether through a school or your own physician, testing pre-teen to adolescent children via a scoliosis screening program should be a priority for every parent who wants their child to lead as healthy and pain-free a life as possible.