National Self-detection for Scoliosis
With a new school year commencing take a moment to check your daughters using the National Self-detection for Scoliosis method. The best time for detecting scoliosis is just after the onset of the adolescent growth spurt. This corresponds to Years 5-7 for the majority of girls. There’s never been a case made for scoliosis screening of boys or for that matter any other forms of spinal deformity in both sexes.
In the 70s, screening of schoolgirls commenced in many countries worldwide, but there was considerable debate about the cost-effectiveness of the programs. Apart from the cost factor, there was no data to establish clearly the effectiveness of brace treatment. By the early 90s, the cost factor led to the abandonment of most programs in government schools in Australia resulting in a new strategy needed.
The Spine Society of Australia introduced The National Self-Detection Program for Scoliosis. In essence, this entails the distribution of a simple fact sheet for the target age group (10-12 years of age) describing the outward signs of scoliosis. If, after reading the fact sheet, a girl or her parents think she may have a curvature then follow-up with the family doctor is recommended.
What is Scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a lateral or sideways curve of the spine. The spine also rotates on its long axis as it curves. It usually develops during early adolescence (age 10-13 years) when growth is most rapid.
What is the cause of Scoliosis?
The cause is unknown, but 80-90% of cases occur in otherwise healthy adolescents.
We know that scoliosis is NOT contagious. We know that it’s NOT caused by bad posture, a soft mattress, carrying a heavy school bag or junk food.
Why is early detection important?
While very small curves are common and of no significance, about 2% of girls have a curve that warrants medical observation during the growth period. Three girls per 1,000 will require treatment during the growth phase. The earlier treatment is undertaken, the better the long-term result. This is the basis for screening since in the early stages scoliosis produces no symptoms.
The way to detect scoliosis is to look for it!
What are the outward signs of Scoliosis?
Apart from the outward signs with a teenager standing as illustrated, the reliable Forward Bend Test is used to diagnose scoliosis. This simple visual examination requires the teenager to stand with the feet together and parallel and bending forward as far as she can go with the hands, palms facing each other, pointed between the two big toes. In scoliosis, one side of the upper chest (thoracic) region or the lower back (lumbar) region will be more than 1cm higher than the other. The prominence is most often on the right side in the thoracic region. If the difference between the two sides is less than 1cm, it is highly unlikely that a significant curvature is present. The difference is simply due to asymmetrical growth of the two sides of the body. Called torso asymmetry, it is of no significance.
What will happen if scoliosis is not treated?
The curve may increase unnoticed during the growing years. Moderate and severe curves may also increase in adult life. Some curves may increase with pregnancy. Severe pain, physical deformity, and wear and tear arthritis may occur during middle life. Early detection is important for a healthy future.
How do you detect Scoliosis?
Simply look for it!
It only takes 30 seconds.
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