Scoliosis in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

A normal spine—which is the line of bones going down your back—is usually straight or slightly curved. In scoliosis, the spine curves from side to side, often in an S or C shape. It may also be twisted. Scoliosis can affect adults, but it usually is found in children, especially girls between the ages of 10 and 16. Scoliosis can limit your child's growth. In very bad cases, your child's lungs may not be able to hold enough air. That can cause the heart to work harder to pump blood.

Young people who have scoliosis usually do not have symptoms, but some may have back pain.

If your child has mild scoliosis, he or she may need only to see a doctor every 4 to 6 months to make sure the curve is not getting worse. A child who has moderate scoliosis may need a brace. A brace usually stops the curve from getting worse, but it is not able to correct or straighten the spine. Scoliosis that is very bad may need surgery. Scoliosis and its treatment can be hard on a child. He or she may be embarrassed by wearing a brace. Think about taking your child to a scoliosis clinic, where other children are being treated. It may help your child cope with the condition.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Keep follow-up visits with your child's doctor.
  • If your child has a brace, follow instructions for wearing it.
  • Offer your child lots of hugs and emotional support. A child, especially a teen, who wears a brace may feel bad about himself or herself. If your child seems very sad or depressed for a long time, have your child talk to a counsellor.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Do not give your child two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • Ask your doctor about what type of daily activity is safe for your child.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse symptoms in your arms, legs, chest, belly, or buttocks. Symptoms may include:
    • Numbness or tingling.
    • Weakness.
    • Pain.
  • You lose bladder or bowel control.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child is not getting better as expected.
  • Your child has a brace and has any problems wearing it.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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