Two years have passed since Covid-19 hit the world, including India. During this time, normal life was thrown upside down for everyone. From work from home to patients preferring video consultations with doctors over face-to-face meetings, and the onset of novel and/or uncommon health complications, Covid-19 brought in its wake unforeseen developments, all of the unsavoury kind. One such rather uncommon health complication is the spread of Spondylolysis among children. Due to staying indoors and using of smartphones, tablets and laptops excessively, children and teens are developing serious spinal defects. This is a warning alarm for parents who ignore initial symptoms of spinal problems in kids that later aggravate severe complications. In this article, Dr. Vidyadhara S, HOD & Consultant- Spine Surgery, Spine Care, Manipal Hospital Old Airport Road explains about rising cases of spinal defects in children and how to handle them.
Thanks to the lack of body movement brought about by the lockdowns of the Covid-19 days, when everyone was cooped up in their homes, children and teens have fallen prey to spondylolysis. At home during online classes, children tend to sit in awkward positions. Add to this the inactivity and lack of physical exertion for these children, and conditions such as spondylolysis reared their heads.
Spondylolysis vs spondylolisthesis
Spondylolysis is a spinal condition that causes acute pain. This happens when vertebrae connection is disrupted. In medical terms, spondylolysis is also termed as ‘pars defect’ as it affects the pars interarticularis bone which is a very tiny bone that joins two vertebrae. The primary cause of spondylolysis is regular spinal stress or tension that we give by not maintaining proper posture for a long time.
Also Read: What Are The Different Types of Spondylitis
- When spondylosis is left untreated, it could lead to Spondylolisthesis in cervical spine. In contrast, spondylolisthesis not only breaks the bond between the spinal tail and the spinal cord but also enables the spinal cord to slip a vertebra.
- In other words, the vertebra begins to move upward on its own by losing instability.
- The spinal structure gets completely damaged.
- Both medical conditions result in intense pain in the lower back and neck, as well as loss of sensation in the arms or thighs, muscular tension in the hamstring and lower back.
These symptoms of spinal defects require urgent medical attention, especially in children. On the other end of the spectrum, individuals with spondylolisthesis may not even experience any symptoms at all. Sometimes the symptoms may show up after many years. It may show up during an X-ray procedure for some other ailment.
Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis in Children
According to Dr. Vidyadhara, they have witnessed a huge rise in cases of spondylolisthesis in children in 2022. Children with this medical condition are reported to develop a waddling gait. Here are some things that parents must keep in mind:
- Children who experience spondylolisthesis might face the resultant complications in their adult lives.
- However, the pain caused by this medical condition can be treated effectively through regular therapy and medicines.
- Care should be taken that children affected by this medical condition should do exercise in moderate measure, and not overdo it.
- Excess exercise can aggravate the joint pain. If the condition is not too serious, surgery can be avoided on doctor's advice.
Spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis can also result in psychological issues in children and teens. That’s because acute pain can cause tremendous stress and create mental instability.
Now that Covid-19 is on the wane, children need to get outdoors again. They need to get back to school and play. They need to exercise and build up their muscle strength. That will keep medical conditions like spondylosis and spondylolisthesis at bay, helping them lead normal lives. Parents need to be strict about sitting and standing postures of their kids to ensure that their spinal posture is right. These small things can forestall major complications in future.
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