Scoliosis: The truth about common myths

  • Having scoliosis does not mean that you will not be able to have children or will have trouble with a normal birth. Scoliosis has no effect on conception and in most cases women have no problems with pregnancy and labour. You should make your midwife aware beforehand to ensure that you have a safe and comfortable delivery. Also if you are considering an epidural (either for pain relief or for a caesarean section), your anaesthetist will want to know in advance.

  • At the moment spinal surgery is the only proven way of treating scoliosis and correcting spinal curvature, except in the case of very young children and some types of smaller curves, where bracing or casting can be useful. Treatments such as physiotherapy and exercise routines can help with pain, and improve posture and flexibility but will not reduce the size of a curve or slow down worsening of the curve (progression).

  • Having scoliosis doesn’t mean that a child cannot do sport or PE (physical education). People should try to keep fit and active to keep the back muscles strong. Always check with a specialist about what sports can be done after correction or during treatment for a spinal curvature.
  • Having metalwork in your spine will not necessarily set off the detection system at airports. Even if the detectors do activate, the airport security guards will be able to see your scar and it won’t cause a problem. You do not need a letter from a doctor.
  • Scoliosis cannot be prevented. It is not caused by carrying heavy school bags or anything a child or parent did or did not do. In most cases scoliosis is idiopathic, which means there is no known cause. 

  • Scoliosis can worsen very quickly during adolescence because the child is growing fast at this time. As a parent you shouldn’t blame yourself for not spotting the curvature sooner. Your child’s scoliosis will probably have developed very quickly and can seem to appear out of nowhere. What might have been a straight spine a few weeks before may suddenly show signs of curving.
  • After surgery many people think that they cannot take part in activities such as horse riding, sky diving, and contact sports. Most patients will be able to do these things after a time. However, it is very important to check with your specialist to make sure you are back to full health before taking part in such activities.
  • With all surgery there are risks, and with spinal surgery there is a very small chance of paralysis. The important thing to remember is that paralysis happens very rarely. The scoliosis specialists weigh up all the pros and cons. If they think the risks are too great they won’t do the operation.

  • Just because you are diagnosed with scoliosis does not mean you will need to have an operation. If the curve is very big or growing very quickly surgery might be recommended. However, many people simply need to have their spine checked regularly to make sure the curve isn’t getting bigger.

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