Living With Scoliosis As A Teenage Cheerleader

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Cheerleading is a fun sport that many teens of both genders love. Unfortunately, scoliosis can seriously impact not only their ability to perform, but their overall health. Here's what parents and teen cheerleaders need to know about this health concern.

How Scoliosis Will Affect The Back Of The Cheerleader

Scoliosis causes the back of a cheerleader to develop a serious curve. This is caused by a deformation of the spine and the direction in which it is growing. In younger cheerleaders, this curve is not likely to be too wide. In fact, many cheerleaders may be able to continue their routines without suffering from serious health problems, as long as they are relatively low-impact.

However, as the cheerleader ages and the condition worsens, the curve will only get worse and is likely to cause a variety of health problems later in life. This is particularly true if they are involved in high-impact cheerleading that integrates aerobic routines. These behaviors could cause a worsening of the condition and make it more difficult to control.

Cheerleading Can Exacerbate The Condition

While many exercises can actually help manage the pain and development of scoliosis, many others can cause it to get worse. For example, high-impact exercises that compress the spine, extend the back, or unevenly work the spine can cause severe trauma that exacerbates scoliosis and makes it extremely painful for the athlete.

Cheerleading is very back-oriented, including flips, hand-landings, twists, bends, and spins that put heavy strain on the back. All of these movements can make scoliosis worse and even make it necessary for the child to stop and get treatment. Most people with scoliosis are going to need some type of treatment, which takes both non-surgical and surgical forms.

Treatment Can Help – But There Are Limitations

Less severe instances of scoliosis, such as braces, can help prevent a spinal curve from getting worse. While it doesn't necessarily straighten the back, it does decrease the severity of scoliosis. For cheerleaders, this can be useful as they can wear their back brace during performances and avoid more high-impact exercises that could cause a worsening of the condition.

Surgical treatment is typically suggested for teens who have a curve of 45-50 degrees. It may also be necessary if the back brace did not stop the curve in the spine. Cheerleaders who undergo this treatment will have significantly straightened back, but may be out of performance for some time. In some instances, they may no longer be able to perform.

While this may be heartbreaking for teen cheerleaders, surgery is still necessary if scoliosis gets that severe. Failure to get appropriate surgery could result in permanent disability and severe pain later in life. Thankfully, there is a chance that surgeon, like C D Denison, could get them back on their feet and into cheerleading again.