Scoliosis is a common condition that affects millions each year, yet there are still many myths associated it. Dr. Subaraman Ramchandran, a pediatric spinal surgeon with the Center for Spinal Disorders at Nicklaus Children's Hospital explains common questions he receives from his patients about scoliosis and spinal surgery.
Myth: Scoliosis is preventable
Reality: Scoliosis is generally caused by genetic mutations that lead to abnormal muscular coordination, asymmetric growth of the vertebrae and connective tissue abnormalities. Therefore, most types of scoliosis are not preventable.
Myth: Wearing heavy back pack causes scoliosis
Reality: Although a heavy backpack can place an increased load on the spine leading to poor posture, it does not directly cause scoliosis. Scoliosis is mainly caused by asymmetry in the growth and development of the spine and its surrounding muscles. Scoliosis has a strong genetic predisposition.
Myth: Exercise and therapy can reverse scoliosis
Reality: Although Exercise and physical therapy can have very positive effects related to back muscle strengthening and adoption of optimal posture, they do not reverse scoliosis. This is even true with swimming. Bracing and newer exercise programs termed as “ Schroth exercises” tend to reduce the progression of scoliosis but none of these techniques can reverse the scoliotic deformities.
Myth: Surgery to correct deformity is invasive, very risky and extremely painful
Reality: With the advancement of spinal instrumentation and corrective techniques, along with excellent pre- and post- operative care, scoliosis surgery has undergone significant changes over the past decade. Effective neuro-monitoring techniques, efficient blood salvage methods, newer non-opioid medications and enhanced rehabilitation protocols have led to shorter operative times, shorter lengths of stay in the hospital and a faster recovery.
Myth: Spinal instrumentation for scoliosis correction in adolescents can affect a woman’s ability to give birth as an adult
Reality: Recent studies have shown that the quality of life, sexual function and the ability to give birth as an adult are not affected after surgical correction of scoliosis as an adolescent. However, women with a history of spinal fusion for scoliosis fused in certain types of vertebral levels require higher chances of cesarean sections during child birth.
The Center for Spinal Disorders at Nicklaus Children's is one of the nation's leading providers of treatment for children with spinal conditions. The team is committed to providing the latest in research and innovation to the children. Currently, The Center for Spinal Disorders is involved in studies to lower radiation exposure in scoliosis patients and a clinical trial for Vertebral Body Tether, also known as fusion less spinal surgery. Nicklaus Children's Hospital is the only center in South Florida that uses three-dimensional technology for scoliosis surgical planning.
For more information about the Center for Spinal Disorders, visit www.nicklauschildrens.org/Spine.