Scoliosis affects 3 to 5 percent of the population. The condition, which causes the spine to excessively curve sideways, typically occurs during puberty and is more common in girls.
It is routine for school nurses to check for the condition, and if they find it, it's imperative to get to a doctor as soon as possible, said Corey Bowden, a chiropractor at Advanced Spinal Rehab in Layton.
"A lot of scoliosis is picked up through screenings," Bowden said. "When you can catch scoliosis at a young age and treat it early, it can be successfully managed," Bowden said.
Bowden said the best treatment depends on what stage the scoliosis is at the time of diagnosis, but when caught in time, a brace and physical therapy can be very successful.
"We didn't find many kids wanting to wear the old, rigid back braces, but there's a new, softer brace called SpineCor, and it's the first and only corrective brace out there for scoliosis," Bowden said.
The brace stabilizes 87 percent of cases, doesn't restrict movement and can be worn under clothing, Bowden said.
"There may be a little discomfort for a day or so. It fits snuggly, like a tight shirt, but most people sleep in it and don't have any issues," Bowden said.
"And nobody knows you have it on, so you don't have those psycho emotional ramifications like you did in the past."
The brace, developed by two pediatric surgeons at Sainte Justin's Hospital in Montreal, is worn 20 hours a day and can be worn while participating in sports, even swimming, Bowden said. The average length of time worn is approximately three years. The brace also must be tightened once a month.
In addition to scoliosis, there are other things that can cause your child's back to hurt. The wrong shoes, bad posture and too heavy of a backpack can all cause problems for the spine.
"Your child should only carry 7 percent of his body weight on his back," Bowden said. "Those growing bodies with immature skeletons don't need that kind of weight on them."
Bowden also said the backpacks should always be worn with both straps and should extend to the belt line.
A good pair of shoes is also important. The wrong pair can create an imbalance of the body as well as back, hip and knee pain and even headaches, Bowden said.
"I understand fashion, but you've got to think about support and comfort first," he said.
"Make sure the toe box isn't crowded and that there is proper arch support. If you have to wear heels, don't wear them until you've hit the puberty stage."