Myths about Early Onset Scoliosis

Frequently Asked Questions

Glossary

Myth: Early Onset Scoliosis (EOS) is caused by improper backpack use.
There is no evidence that shows that heavy backpacks cause scoliosis or make it worse. Although a heavy backpack may possibly be associated with increased back pain in children, most types of scoliosis are believed to have a genetic component to their cause.
Myth: Spinal manipulation, electrical stimulation or physical therapy (Schroth Method, Clear Method) can stop the progression of EOS.
There is no evidence to support the use of these therapies for EOS. There is some lower quality studies that evaluate adolescent idiopathic scoliosis with respect to these therapies, however, most of these studies have a small number of patients or do not compare their therapies to a randomized control group. Without a large number of patients that are compared to a control group, most of the evidence is anecdotal and bias may be present. Some types of scoliosis do not progress or improve on their own—thus it is important to compare like to like in all high quality studies. Most programs that treat scoliosis with these methodologies are not covered by insurance (because of no proof of efficacy) and require payment in cash. Although most of these therapies are not harmful per se, they can delay proper treatment by an orthopedic surgeon, thus requiring surgery where noninvasive treatment may have been effective, or larger surgery than was initially required.
Myth: Diet affects/causes Early Onset Scoliosis.
There is no evidence that anything in diet is associated with EOS. Most scoliosis is thought to have at least in part a genetic basis and no type of food has been identified to have any part in causing spinal curvature. The presence of organic vs. non-organic foods, GMO’s, hormones, or pesticides has not been proven to have any affect on causing EOS.
Myth: Orthopedic surgeons only want to perform surgery, without trying noninvasive options.
This is absolutely false. Surgeons who treat EOS are well versed and trained in a number of noninvasive treatments including bracing, casting, and occasionally therapy. Only when these methods lose efficacy or are ineffective do they proceed with surgery. Rarely is surgery is the first treatment option proposed. In these cases, usually the scoliosis is very severe or rapidly progressing and other options would cause undue harm to the patient.
Myth: My child will wake up or feel pain during surgery.
The use of very powerful anesthetics allows the anesthesiologist to put the patient in a very deep sleep without pain or awareness. The addition of neurologic monitoring has increased the safety of anesthesia by allowing the anesthesiologist and surgeon to see exactly how deep the patient is anesthetized and ensure that no pain is being perceived by the brain during surgery.
Myth: My child will be paralyzed after surgery.
The vast majority of spine surgeries for EOS are performed with patients at the same level of function before and after the surgery. The addition of neurologic monitoring allows the surgeon to evaluate in real time the health of the brain and spinal cord during surgery. This has substantially improved the safety of spine surgery for deformity correction.
Myth: Orthopedic surgeons have the cure for scoliosis, but are not sharing the secret because they would not make money from surgery anymore.
This is categorically false. Most surgeons who perform a significant amount of surgery for scoliosis (and EOS) tend to be active in research looking at the causes of scoliosis, the efficacy of different types of treatment, and looking for possible cures. Once a cure for scoliosis is found, this will be made available to all through the scientific community for the improvement of life for all patients with this disease.

Frequently Asked Questions

Glossary