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When Marranda Wilson was 9 years old, her father noticed that her ribs were protruding on her left side. They looked misshapen, and Marranda was in pain. Her back and ribs hurt.
Marranda’s primary care physician referred her to Richard Hostin, MD, a spine surgeon at Medical City Dallas. After an X-ray and checkup, she was diagnosed with idiopathic adolescent scoliosis: a condition with no known cause that makes the spine curve from side to side in an “S” or a “C” shape.
Generally affecting more girls than boys, adolescent scoliosis develops just before the growth spurt that comes with puberty: age 10–13 for girls and 12–14 for boys. Common signs include:
- Uneven shoulders
- One shoulder blade more prominent than the other
- Uneven waist
- One hip higher than the other
- Ribs on one side stick out more
Learn more about the symptoms of scoliosis in children:
Scoliosis may not be painful at first. But over time, it can lead to deformity, difficulty breathing and nerve compression causing numbness, weakness and pain when standing or walking. Treatment is highly individualized according to factors including the patient's age: with children, doctors can take steps to stop the progression of curves while with adults, their primary goal is to decrease pain and disability. Options include:
- Observation: With small curves or if an adolescent has stopped growing, the condition may not affect quality of life
- Bracing: With moderate to large curves, a brace can be a noninvasive way to keep them from getting bigger
- Surgery: Severe curves can be effectively treated by surgically fusing two or more vertebrae to eliminate motion and stabilize the spine
Marranda's medical team recommended a brace that would hold her curve in line until her growth spurt appeared. Her curve continued to progress, however, so after a year in the brace, she underwent scoliosis surgery at Medical City Children's Hospital Orthopedics & Spine. Today, Marranda stands two inches taller and can comfortably enjoy her favorite hobbies of running, photography and arts and crafts.
Getting your child checked for scoliosis
Scoliosis is often hard to detect because of an initial lack of symptoms. Talk to your pediatrician about arranging a screening or call (972) 566-7746 to schedule an appointment with the experts at Medical City Children's Hospital.
Learn more about diagnosing scoliosis in children: