What causes kids hump

Scoliosis in children needs to be treated as early as possible

A crooked back in children and adolescents is not harmless. It may be scoliosis. With this misalignment, the spine twists more and more. Girls most often get sick with the onset of puberty. Physiotherapy can help in the early stages, and a brace or an operation in severe cases.

In scoliosis, the spine does not continue to grow normally, but bends to the side, and at the same time the vertebrae twist. The name of the disease comes from the Greek word "skolios", which means "crooked". "Mostly girls are affected," says the doctor Kay Steffan from the Asklepios Katharina Schroth Clinic in Bad Sobernheim. Experts estimate that four percent of the population have scoliosis - women much more often than men.

The cause is unclear. Some medical professionals suggest that the female hormone estrogen plays a role. Others suspect nervous and muscular disorders or a genetic predisposition.

Symptoms of Scoliosis

Unevenly standing shoulders and a crooked pelvis are clear signs of scoliosis. The curvature can occur in several parts of the spine, most often on the thoracic or lumbar spine.

"One problem is that the parents usually don't even notice it," says spine specialist Christoph Eichhorn from the German Orthopedic Association in Saarbr├╝cken. The affected girls are often in puberty and no longer show themselves to their parents with bare chests. They prefer not to tell anything about the unusual appearance of their backs. Since, according to Steffan, many doctors do not pay particular attention to this disease during their preventive examinations, scoliosis is often just an incidental finding. "She is the stepchild of orthopedics."

Even with Hans-Theo Moog, the founder and managing director of the German Scoliosis Network (DSN), the crooked back was only recognized by chance: "When I was twelve years old, I was standing at the edge of the pool and wanted to jump into the water. My brother was right behind me and noticed my crooked shoulder blades, "he says.

Simple exercise shows the curvature

Parents should keep a close eye on the physical development of their child during puberty, emphasizes Frauke Mecher from the Association for Physiotherapy (ZVK). You can recognize scoliosis with a simple exercise: The child bends forward while standing with the upper body free and lets his arms hang down. In scoliosis - depending on the affected area - there is usually a hump on the upper right side or a bulge on the lower left side of the back.

The earlier scoliosis is detected, the more effectively it can be treated. Johannes Flechtenmacher, President of the Professional Association for Orthopedics and Trauma Surgery, demands that young people between the ages of eleven and 13 have their spine checked. A clinical examination provides the first information. "Only if there is a well-founded suspicion is an X-ray carried out," says Flechtenmacher. The entire spine including the iliac crest is then brought into focus.

The Cobb angle is crucial

The Cobb angle measures how severe the scoliosis is. "To do this, the angle of the most strongly tilted vertebrae is determined in the X-ray image," explains the orthopedist. The size of the Cobb angle provides a guideline for the treatment. If the number is very small, the development of the scoliosis will be checked at regular intervals. "Physiotherapy therapies are added from around ten degrees, and corset therapy from 25 degrees."

For severe scoliosis - from a Cobb angle of 35 degrees - an operation is an option. This stiffens the affected section of the spine. The orthopedic surgeon emphasizes that the degrees are only very rough guidelines. "The choice of therapy also depends on where the scoliosis is and whether the curvature is progressing."

Problems come with age

At first, the curvature of the spine hardly causes pain, but the consequences can be severe. If left untreated, scoliosis usually gets worse and worse. The chest can even become deformed so that the heart and lungs can only function to a limited extent. In addition, the misalignment puts excessive strain on other joints - there is a risk of osteoarthritis.

In older age, there is more and more pain and irritation, especially in the case of one-sided loads, mostly in the muscles and joints of the spine. "If you only sit in the office all day, it is all the more important that you consciously exercise your muscles during and after work," emphasizes Mecher.

Various therapies can help

Scoliosis is easy to treat in the early stages. Equipment training and physiotherapy are usually prescribed. For years, the patient has to do his exercises in a disciplined manner several times a week and be treated. One treatment method is Schroth therapy. The name goes back to Katharina Schroth - a teacher who was seriously ill with scoliosis herself. She treated her curvature of the spine herself and thus developed a new concept of physiotherapy.

With Dorn Therapy, joints and vertebrae are gently moved so that they get back into their correct position as far as possible. Those affected should definitely clarify this alternative healing method with an orthopedic surgeon beforehand.

During physical therapy, scoliosis patients exercise the muscles that surround the torso. With a good muscle corset, the spine stays upright better, explains physiotherapist Mecher. In addition to physiotherapy, exercise is a must for those affected. Sports that alternately stress the body, such as climbing or inline skating, are best. Swimming is also good. "It's best to do a crawl or breaststroke, but not a butterfly," advises Mecher. Sports that stress the body on one side, such as hockey, are unfavorable.

During surgery, a rod is anchored in the back

In worse cases, patients have to wear a corset almost around the clock - sometimes even for several years. The corset starts under the armpits, encloses the pelvis and is made of sturdy plastic. It may only be removed for personal hygiene

The corset is uncomfortable, but still better than surgery. During scoliosis surgery, the skin on the back is opened and hooks or screws are attached to suitable places. A rod is attached to it that can stay there for a lifetime.

"This rod pushes the spine into the desired position," explains spine specialist Eichhorn. It will not come into the ideal form, but at least it will be in a much better shape than before. Since the back straightens up, the children are several centimeters taller after the operation than before.

However, the operation is a delicate matter - important nerves can be injured. In addition, there is the usual risk such as infections or disturbances in wound healing. "Something like this is only done at special centers," explains Eichhorn. After the operation, however, the patients are pain-free surprisingly quickly. However, it always comes last in the treatment plan.

Spine won't straighten again

In general, the right treatments can stop the progression of scoliosis. There is no cure. "The condition of the spine can no longer be improved," says the orthopedist Lichenmacher. Early detection and prevention are all the more important.

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