Teenage Growth Spurts & Scoliosis Screenings

Images of measuring tape, exercise tools, girl sleeping and food
Tools for your growth spurt

How to detect the signs of a growth spurt

Spring has arrived!  The azaleas are blooming, pollen is in the air and growth is happening all around us.

If you have a child/teen between the ages of 10-19, then they too are in their ‘spring’ and going through a significant growth spurt.

Another word for this teenage spring of growth is … puberty. A time of life filled with both emotional and physical changes.

Studies have shown that puberty is starting younger but still lasting as long as it ever has…

  • Girls typically finish most growth by age 17
  • Boys typically finish most growth by age 19

One of the changes teens look forward to is growing taller! Kids can grow anywhere from 2-4 inches a year during the growth spurt.

Which is why it is imperative to monitor your child/teen during their growth spurt and screen for scoliosis. The age of fastest growth in boys is age 13 and for girls age 12.

Here’s a few things you can look out for to try and catch scoliosis before it progresses :

  1. Does one shoulder or hip consistently look higher than the other?
  2. Have they complained about their back hurting?
  3. Do you see a hump in their back when they have a bathing suit on or shirt off?
  4. Does one leg of their pants look shorter?
  5. Do you or your spouse have scoliosis?

image of how to check for scoliosis

Any one of these is not a sign of scoliosis, but coupled together, they do warrant a scoliosis screen by your pediatrician and physical therapist . The adolescent spine is flexible, pliable and moldable. Which means that, if caught early, a scoliotic spine can be changed. Once growth is complete by age 19 for most, the bones have ‘set’ and changes are absolutely possible, but will require more effort.

Scoliosis screenings are typically done in the 6th or 7th grades during the school day and also at annual pediatrician check-ups.

The Joy of Therapy volunteers at local schools doing scoliosis screenings. If you or your school would like complimentary screenings in the Tallahassee or southern Georgia region, please reach out to schedule a scoliosis screening.

It’s key to get the most out of the growth spurt years

4 tips to make the most of the teenage growth spurt:

  1. Monthly Height checks: Its time to get out your pencil and find a place in their room to measure  height. Consistent height checks during adolescence are KEY to keeping a check on the progression of their scoliotic curve. If you are finding a ‘jump’ in height from one month to the next, and your child/teen has scoliosis, or you are suspecting it: that is a sign that their scoliotic curve is changing. It may be decreasing but it also could be increasing. Please follow up with your pediatrician when you see this change. You may also contact our clinic for an evaluation and/or treatment session.
  2. Calcium and vitamin DThese nutrients are vital to bone growth ! They can be found in foods such as dark green leafy vegetables, white beans, fish, foods fortified in vitamin D (cereals, OJ, and some dairy products), cheese . These ” 2 critical nutrients for bones:  Calcium is a crucial guiding block of bone tissue.  Vitamin D helps the body absorb and process calcium. Together these two nutrients are the cornerstone of healthy bones.”- How to Keep Your Bones Strong as They Age.
  3. Sleep– 9-11 hours per night for kids ages 6-13 and 8-10 hours per night for teens ages 14-19. Sleep is ESSENTIAL for tissue growth and repair.
  4. Daily exercise: Bones love weight bearing so go take a walk, run or skip in the park to help your bones grow strong and healthy

Get your FREE ‘Grow with Joy of Therapy’ ruler to monitor your child’s growth :Joy of Therapy Growth Handout

Schedule a complimentary Scoliosis Screening