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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- What is scoliosis?

2662055 - radiography of a young female spine with severe scoliosis

Dr. Alicia Arnold, "Scoliosis is when your spine has an abnormal curvature, which may be shaped like a C or an S. There are different types of scoliosis, but the most common usually appears around the time of puberty. Sometimes symptoms are mild, but they can be noticeable, including uneven appearing shoulders or ribs, a body that leans to one side, or a shoulder that appears to stick out more than the other."

Talk about girls vs boys and scoliosis.

Dr. Alicia Arnold, "Girls are much more likely than boys to develop scoliosis. Also, once they have a diagnosis of scoliosis, the spinal curvature is much more likely to worsen in girls than in boys. Because of these statistics, we see scoliosis impacting the lives of girls more frequently than boys."

What causes scoliosis?

Dr. Alicia Arnold, "For most cases the medical community doesn’t know why it develops, although it is thought to be in part due to genetics. Importantly, it is not due to poor posture or because of backpack use. Sometimes parents feel guilty that they or their child have done something to have caused idiopathic scoliosis, but that is not the case."

How is it treated?

Dr. Alicia Arnold, "It depends on how severe the spinal curvature is. It may be observation and close follow-up, wearing a brace or surgery."

Talk about issues that wearing a brace may bring for those affected by scoliosis.

Dr. Alicia Arnold, "If a brace is required to help prevent future curvature of the spine, children frequently need to wear it during the pre-teen and teenage years. These body braces frequently cover much of the torso. Between the brace and the changes from the scoliosis, many young person report feeling self-conscious."

Do you have tips for those who may need to wear a brace?

Dr. Alicia Arnold, "There are clothing lines specifically sold for those who have to wear braces. You can also shop at everyday stores too if you know what to look for. Start with finding something comfortable to wear under your brace. Many people report that a tight-fitting, seamless t-shirt in a breathable material works well for them. For clothing styles to wear over your brace, uneven hems, tunic styles with leggings, and layering for example with vests or infinity scarves work well."

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