Orthotic & Prosthetic Treatment for Scoliosis in Federal Way & Tacoma

Preferred-Orthotics-and-Prosthetic-Services-31Scoliosis is a term used to describe progressive abnormal lateral curves in the spinal column. The spine is normally curved and small lateral or sideways curves are not a cause for concern.

The curvature of the spine is measured in degrees and if the curve progresses over time, scoliosis will be suspected. The most common form of scoliosis is idiopathic, which means there is no known cause.

There are three types of treatments for scoliosis: observation, orthopedic bracing and surgery.

Observation is appropriate for small curves in the spine that are at a low risk of progression.

In children who have completed growth (boys older than 17 and girls older than 15) with a curve of 25 to 40 degrees observation is an appropriate treatment option. Following up with yearly x-rays to confirm the curve has not progressed is recommended for several years after growth is completed.

Preferred-Orthotics-and-Prosthetic-Services-32Orthopedic Braces

Orthopedic braces are used as treatment when a curve in the spine ranges between 25 and 40 degrees and there is still a significant amount of growth left for the child.

An orthopedic brace is used to prevent further deformity. An orthopedic brace will not correct or cure the existing curvature in the spine.

Surgery is a method of treatment for severe scoliosis, curves that measure greater than 45 degrees or do not respond to orthopedic bracing. The primary goals for surgery are to stop progression of the curve and diminish spinal deformity.

The most common surgery to address adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is a posterior spinal fusion with combined instrumentation and bone grafting.

During surgery a metal rod is attached to each side of the patient's spine with hooks attached to the vertebral bodies. A piece of bone from the patient's hip is fused to the spine. The bone will then grow between the vertebrae, holding them together and straight.

The metal rods attached to the spine will ensure the backbone remains straight while the spinal fusion sets. Most patients who undergo posterior spinal fusion do not require postoperative bracing and are able to resume preoperative activity within four to six months.

An alternative surgical option for scoliosis involves an anterior approach through the chest walls instead of the back. The anterior approach allows the surgeon to operate higher up the spine and reach areas of the spine the posterior approach cannot.

Advantages of posterior surgery include: fewer fusions, improved mobilization of the spine and faster rehabilitation. Patients will require post-operative orthopedic bracing for several months after surgery.