The teenage years are full of struggles and challenges already, and then some teens have the added trial of having scoliosis during this crucial time. As a parent, how do you make sure you are doing the best things for them?
Sadly, the system is not set up to provide you with the best and most up to date information on scoliosis and the treatments available. It also isn’t geared to helping you address the mental struggles your child may be going through.
A few weeks ago I had a 12-year-old patient in my office for an evaluation. We started talking about their experience thus far with scoliosis and her mother expressed frustration at the lack of options that were presented to them when they went to an orthopedic surgeon’s office. She felt like with him being the “specialist” in treating scoliosis, he would have told her how scoliosis could be treated conservatively.
So, here she was, in my clinic after looking up the Schroth Method on her own, 1 year after diagnosis of scoliosis for her daughter. Her daughter’s curve by this point had progressed to near surgical range, and she was struggling with back pain. In an email after our appointment, she also told me of her daughter’s struggle with feeling like she was “broken” and hating her back.
This shouldn’t have happened! They should have been given the tools and information to help them through the process, and not just “wait and see” it gets worse!
Here are a few suggestions on what you can do to get the best information which will lead to the best outcomes.
1) Speak up and ask questions!
This is probably the biggest and best suggestion I can give you. The problem is, most of the time you don’t know what questions to ask. Here are a few suggestions
- Is there anything else we can do?
- Are there any exercises that would be good to start?
- What are the pros and cons of bracing?
- How can we stop this curve from going to surgery?
And there are many more you can ask. Whether you are in the pediatricians office, orthotists office, or surgeon’s office…don’t expect them to tell you, or even know about, other options for your child. Chances are they probably know about those options, but most of the time you need to ask.
For example, most surgeons know about the Schroth Method for scoliosis treatment. The problem is they usually don’t bring that up as the first line of defense, even though it has been researched and shown to be effective.
This could be because they feel it is too much work or too expensive (both of which are untrue…especially when compared to surgery). Their job, however, should be to give you all the options and let you make the decision for your child.
In our medical system, we are used to being guided by our medical providers through the process. While some may do this amazingly well, most are not great at it. Don’t expect to receive all the information you need without asking questions!
2) Do Your Own Research
Now, this may seem daunting because you have not researched this type of thing before, but break out your computer and search what treatments are out there and try to answer your own questions from #1 above.
There has been no other time in history where we have so much information at our fingertips. All you have to do is pull up Google and search. Become the expert on YOUR child’s diagnosis.
A word of caution! There are some crazy things out there on the internet. I have seen some treatments for scoliosis that are totally crazy and ineffective. One way to combat this is to go to reputable websites. If it looks shady, it probably is. Also, if you get the same recommendation from multiple websites, you might be on the right track.
If you know how to use Pubmed, then search on there for current research. If not, no worries.
The main thing is to educate yourself on what is available. Get an idea of what might be a good fit for your child and dig deeper to see if it fits for you. Don’t make this decision quickly though. There are a lot of things out there and it will take some time.
When you decide that something is right for your child, ask them to provide the research that backs what they do. If they can’t do that, I would be cautious.
If someone contacts me about scoliosis treatment, there are MANY studies I can give them that support what I do. Most of those are actually already on our website for all to see.
3) Connect With Others
One of the severely underutilized things in the scoliosis world is connecting with others in support groups. There are so many people out there going through the same thing you are. Connect with them!
This can come in many forms. Here are a few suggestions:
- Curvy Girls Support Group
- Scolios-us Bracing Group
- Higgy Bears
- Many Facebook Groups
And there are many more.
The best thing you can do for your child mentally, in my opinion, is to get them connected with someone else who is going through, or has gone through, the same things. Even if you have scoliosis, it helps them to connect with someone close to their age who is going through it.
I have seen too many kids lately who are struggling with the diagnosis. Many times they don’t really tell anyone and suffer in silence. From the outside, they seem fine and will tell you they are fine, but are they really?
These support groups don’t need to be in person meetings, and now with technology, it is possible to connect with people from around the world with the same issues. Take advantage of this.
Then, when your child is through this period of their life, or you are, consider being a mentor or support to others.
One other thing on this…parents need support too! It is a struggle as a parent trying to navigate and deal with everything. Talk to others who have gone through it! This is an awesome way to get information.
So, there you have a few suggestions on how to advocate for your child, or yourself, with the diagnosis of scoliosis. There are many more things you can do, but this will get you started off right.
Take the time to educate yourself, ask questions, and connect with others. As you do that, you will get the results you want with this diagnosis. It will take some effort and time, but it is definitely worth it.
If you would like more information on how we treat scoliosis at Align Therapy, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
You can even download a free report about scoliosis and what can be done. You can find it HERE.
Thanks for reading!