Battling Scoliosis in Overweight Teens

Back bracing less effective, study finds

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WEDNESDAY, Sept. 17, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Back bracing is less effective in overweight teens with curvature of the spine, says a Johns Hopkins Children's Center study.

Wearing a back brace is the most commonly prescribed and only non-surgical treatment for curvature of the spine (scoliosis).

This study included 276 teenagers with the most common form of scoliosis -- adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.

The researchers found overweight teens in the group were more than twice as likely as those with normal weight to develop worsening curvatures of the spine, despite wearing a back brace. Nearly half of the overweight teens eventually required corrective surgery to treat their scoliosis.

The findings were presented at last week's annual meeting of the Scoliosis Research Society.

"When you combine the rising number of overweight children in this country and the relatively frequent occurrence of scoliosis among teens, you're talking about a large percentage of children who might not benefit from wearing a back brace," senior author Dr. Paul D. Sponseller, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, says in a news release.

He recommends doctors take a patient's weight into consideration when making treatment decisions for scoliosis.

"Further study is needed to determine if there is a particular body type and weight that should rule out bracing altogether," Sponseller says.

Scoliosis affects about one in every 1,000 teens, mostly females. About 75 percent of scoliosis cases can be corrected with bracing.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about scoliosis.

SOURCE: Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, news release, Sept. 11, 2003

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