Scoliosis is a disease of the neuro-muscular system that has long challenged health care professionals worldwide. The current treatment options or lack of any treatment for most families dealing with an early detection of this disease can be very frustrating. In most cases children diagnosed with scoliosis are told they have it and the healthcare team will monitor it to see if it gets worse. This would be similar to having a doctor tell you that you have a highly progressive cancer but we will wait until it spreads before we can do anything for you. Statistically, scoliosis is progressive in most cases.
So where does this leave children with scoliosis diagnosed below 25 degrees commonly referred to as early detection? The general medical approach is to wait until the curve reaches 25 degrees at which time the orthopedic specialist will recommend bracing. The most common form of bracing is a hard brace which is to be worn on average 22 hours daily until skeletal maturity or until the curve advances to 40 degrees at which point they will push for surgical intervention.
What medical practitioners typically don’t tell you is that once the curve reaches 25 degrees the likelihood of progression is 68% even with most bracing attempts. So that leaves nearly 70% of the families with a highly progressive disease that ends up involving surgical intervention, a highly invasive surgery with significant post surgical ramifications. I don’t know about you, but if my daughter was offered this solution as the only option, I would be very frustrated, scared, and disappointed in our healthcare system for not coming up with a better alternative to effectively combat scoliosis early on before it reaches critical levels where bracing and surgery becomes the only option.
A non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure for scoliosis has developed a system that can effectively reduce and stabilize scoliosis without bracing or surgery. In fact, the majority of the scoliosis cases treated by this alternative methodology have been the result of patient’s facing surgery where bracing attempts have failed to stop progression. This means a huge portion of scoliosis cases that have been reduced and stabilized using these new protocols have been above the 40 degree level. This spinal rehabilitation program was originally designed to correct scoliosis. Correction, meaning take scoliosis generally above 30 degrees Cobb angle and correct it to what is considered non-scoliosis level generally 10 degrees or less.
The majority of cases over 30 degrees have not corrected to this ideal 10 degrees or less range. The average reduction in Cobb angle measurement is 30-50% using what’s called “MIX FIX SET” methodology. Now this is in no way a failure because a non-surgical non-bracing method which has the consistent ability to reduce and stabilize this highly progressive disease is a tremendous accomplishment and will most likely revolutionize the treatment of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Several news stations nationally as well as magazines have done stories and interviews with patients who have undergone this program of scoliosis care. It is considered a major success if you are able to stop scoliosis curve progression let alone reduce the actual curve measurement without the use of bracing, casting, or surgery.
Families with early detection of scoliosis can be proactive. The status quo of watching and waiting for the inevitable train wreck is no longer your only option. Doctors have developed a scoliosis treatment option that is ideal for curves under 30 degrees. The reason for the lack of a complete correction with curves above 30 degrees is due to the inherent nature of scoliosis as a feed forward mechanism. Meaning once the curve progresses to 30 or above, the “crankshaft phenomenon” kicks in, which creates massive rotation coupled with lateral flexion and compression. This phenomenon is very difficult to undo in fact, invasive surgery can not even fully correct this mechanism. When a scoliosis reaches the 30 degree mark, the crankshaft mechanism begins, and the chance of progression skyrockets. This is also why a 50 degree scoliosis may reduce to 30 degrees using this alternative method, which is fantastic, but the scoliosis still remains alive. It has not been fully corrected and therefore has the innate potential to want to continue to grow.
By attacking the scoliosis before it reaches this pivotal point of 30 degrees you can typically correct the scoliosis. You can in most cases eliminate the scoliosis with non scoliosis measurements of 10 degrees or less, thus defeating the disease rather than merely taming it. Imagine having the opportunity to fix the problem before it spirals out of control giving you the freedom to go about your life without having to constantly worry about what the scoliosis is doing or what it will become. This scoliosis treatement program has the potential to become the first line of defense against childhood scoliosis. At some point this technology will be the standard recommendation and hopefully replace the current “watch and wait” do nothing recommendation currently in place for children diagnosed with scoliosis below 25 degrees. Doctors through research and new technology have the potential to “cure” this disease, but it must start from a solid program of early detection and referral to the appropriate treatment facility rather than a watch and wait system that is antiquated and dangerous.