Rochelle Canfield has been able to pursue a career in radiology, thanks in part to her experiences with a spinal condition called scoliosis.
“When I was in the 8th grade, I went to get a physical for track, and my doctor discovered I had a curved spine,” Rochelle recalls. “He asked me to bend at the waist, touch my toes and saw my shoulder blade sticking out. My mom and I had no idea!”
Rochelle’s story is not unusual: her type of idiopathic scoliosis can be found in growing teens, especially girls. After 4 years with a back brace to prevent her spine from curving further, ORA Orthopedics’ pediatric surgeon Dr. Michael Pyevich inserted titanium rods into her back to straighten her spine.
Dr. Pyevich is the only pediatric orthopedist in the Quad City area who performs this surgery to treat scoliosis. He is affiliated with the Quad City ORA Pediatrics Orthopedic Center.
“Dr. Pyevich did a great job,” says Rochelle. “The surgery is amazing and my back is good now. Throughout my treatment I got to know ORA’s X-ray technicians, and now I’d like to help people just like they helped me!” she adds.
Dr. Pyevich says parents should ask their pediatrician to screen children after age 10. A physician will ask the patient to bend forward and touch their toes, in order to see if the child’s spine is straight. A parent may also suspect scoliosis if they notice that their child has a visible rib hump on his or her back.
What is idiopathic scoliosis?
The term “idiopathic” means unknown cause. Although we do not know for sure what causes the majority of scoliosis cases (80% to 85%), we do know it tends to run in families. Scoliosis is not a disease that is caught from someone else, like a cold. There is nothing you can do to prevent it.
How serious is adolescent scoliosis?
Adolescent scoliosis is not life threatening, and most curves do not cause serious problems. If a curve is large, however, it may affect growth. If the curve gets really large, it can cause heart and lung problems. A very severe curve can also compress nerve roots or the spinal cord, which can result in paralysis. This is extremely rare. Proper treatment will prevent the curve from progressing to such a severe degree.
Does scoliosis cause back pain?
Adolescent scoliosis should not cause back pain, although larger curves may cause occasional discomfort. If the back pain is severe or is associated with weakness of the limbs or numbness, call your doctor.
Can scoliosis curves get better on their own?
Idiopathic scoliosis curves do not straighten out on their own. Many children have slight curves that do not need treatment. In these cases, the children grow up to lead normal lives – but their small curves never go away.
If larger curves are not treated, the best you can hope for is that they will not get worse. This depends on how much growing your child has left to do. Curves in children who are almost full-grown may stop getting worse. If your child’s spine is still growing, it is more likely that the curves will worsen.
What can you do to prevent scoliosis from getting worse?
The only treatments that have been shown to affect idiopathic scoliosis are bracing and surgery. There is no evidence in the current medical literature that physical therapy, electrical stimulation, chiropractic care, or other options have any impact on scoliosis curves.
Is it safe for my child to exercise and participate in sports?
Children with idiopathic scoliosis can participate in any sport, as long as they have no backache associated with participation. It is always a good idea for children to stay physically fit with exercise.
Will my child be able to live a normal life?
Yes. People who have curves that do not require surgery are able to participate in the same activities and sports as people without scoliosis. There are rarely restrictions on any of their activities.
The same usually applies to people who have had surgery for scoliosis. They can have the same jobs as people who have not had scoliosis surgery. They can usually do the same sports as before surgery. They should, however, contact their doctors before starting new activities (jobs or sports) to make sure they have no specific restrictions.
Each year, Dr. Pyevich sees more than 500 patients in his scoliosis clinics. If you have questions or may need to schedule an appointment, call ORA Orthopedics at (563) 322-0971. You can also log on to www.qcora.com, as well as follow ORA on Facebook for other Quad City area patient success stories. For more information about scoliosis, visit the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.