SCOLIOSIS: BEYOND THE CURVE

ScoliosisPediatricians and school nurses screen your children for Scoliosis, but do you as a Mom know what to look for?  While the screening checks for a spinal curvature, the side effects of that can also be noticeable.  Typically, if the spine is curved, the rest of the body doesn’t line up, often resulting in knee, hip and shoulder issues, foot problems, and even TMJ.  How does your child stand, walk, move or sit?  Notice their posture, how clothes fit, and if they seem to have repetitive orthopedic injuries.  These signs may be an indication of Scoliosis.  When I was a child, one pant leg always seemed shorter and the hem of my dress was uneven.  My feet hurt because of my extremely high arches, and I had trouble chewing food.  There were signs, but my Mom missed them and I wasn’t diagnosed until much later.

Scoliosis is on the rise, climbing to impact 12 million in the U.S., with 500 more diagnosed each day.  That’s more than the number of people with breast cancer, lung cancer, lupus, Type 1 diabetes, cystic fibrosis and multiple sclerosis combined!  “Not my child” no longer applies, as we’ve seen the condition affect people with no family history, both genders and all ethnic backgrounds.  Yet, Scoliosis is generally relegated to the back of the research funding line.  We don’t know what causes it or how to cure it.

We’ve also seen Scoliosis affect more than just the spine.  The spine is the scaffolding that protects the spinal cord, which is the highway between the brain and the rest of the body.  A crooked spine has to affect the whole body.  Headaches, menstrual issues, digestive problems and breathing difficulties can all be related to Scoliosis.

But probably the most difficult aspect of Scoliosis is how it impacts a child’s body image.  They may feel like their body is “wrong” somehow and not as graceful.  As a loving parent, you may not see subtle differences in your child, but the mean kids at school sure do.  People with Scoliosis face bullying and need help learning to accept and love their bodies in this world that praises beauty and perfection.  Seven spine surgeries later and still crooked, in many ways, this has been as hard for me as the physical complications.

So what’s a Mom to do?  Monitor your children often, and understand the physical and emotional aspects of Scoliosis.  If your child is diagnosed, be thorough in investigating non-invasive options, which are showing incredible promise, as well as traditional surgical treatments.  Let’s start the conversation about Scoliosis and help change the landscape for funding and research for this condition that goes well beyond the curve.

Author Bio:  June Hyjek is an award-winning Author, Speaker, Wellness Coach and Scoliosis Patient and Advocate.  Her books, meditations, and workshops offer hope and encouragement to people experiencing life’s challenges.  She is the author of “Unexpected Grace: A Discovery of Healing through Surrender,” an inspirational story of her personal journey in dealing with Scoliosis, and a meditation CD, “Moving into Grace.”  June’s new book, “Being Grace: A Story for Children about Scoliosis,” shares the emotional consequences of having Scoliosis through the eyes of Grace, a young giraffe who learns to accept the differences in herself, not just in others.  More information can be found at http://www.APlaceOfGrace.net.