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Screening the spine: Why it's important to check for scoliosis as the pandemic continues

Doctor shortage 110819
Posted at 9:24 AM, Apr 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-19 11:03:44-04

NORFOLK, Va. - There is another curve that may have gone unnoticed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Scoliosis is a lateral curvature of the spine curving to the side, and it's any curve that measures 11 degrees or more," said Dr. Carl St. Remy, Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon at CHKD.

St. Remy says scoliosis is a condition that impacts three percent of the population of kids.

"No one really knows how they get it, but we do know there is a genetic aspect to it," he said.

St. Remy says during COVID-19, small curvatures may have gone unnoticed because as school is virtual, and school screenings are not taking place..

"Kids aren't playing sports, they are covered up, wearing jackets and its harder to pick up on," he explained.

St. Remy says there are things as a parent you can look for in your child:

  • Uneven shoulders.
  • One shoulder blade protruding more than the other.
  • Ribs that are more prominent on one side.
  • Unequal distance between the arms and body.
  • Uneven waistline or difference in hip height.
  • Muscles that are prominent in the lower back or that bulge on one side.
  • Uneven folds at the waist.
  • Clothes hang unevenly or fit awkwardly.

If you see any signs you should take your child in for a physical exam, and possibly an x-ray. St. Remy says treatment will vary based on the severity, with surgery being the last resort.

"Treatments also include bracing which could be from 18 tp 20 hours a day.

If left untreated scoliosis can cause chronic back pain and heart and lung problems.

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