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Spine care

Spine specialists, who can be orthopedists or neurosurgeons, diagnose and treat injuries, trauma and diseases related to the spine. Spine care doctors also offer care for herniated disk, nerve damage, sciatica, neck pain or chronic back pain.

Pediatric spine specialists in Denver

With personalized care, we can diminish or even prevent the lasting impact of congenital spine issues for your child.

Pediatric spine doctors at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children understand the complexity of children's spinal disorders. Here, your child will be carefully evaluated by pediatric specialists in neurosurgery, urology, orthopedic care and rehabilitation medicine — all in one place.

Expert advice, available 24/7

Free health-related information is available just a phone call away. Our nurses help you understand your symptoms, treatment options and procedures. They will also help you find a provider or specialist and schedule an appointment.

Free health-related information is available just a phone call away. Our nurses help you understand your symptoms, treatment options and procedures. They will also help you find a provider or specialist and schedule an appointment.

Pediatric spine conditions we treat

Typically, spine-related congenital abnormalities are noted at birth, but they can also be difficult to identify. Simple skin tags, dimples or abnormal skin lesions on the back can help us diagnose spinal abnormalities. Part of the reason this is important is that receiving treatment before symptoms occur can actually prevent spinal cord damage. Some of these conditions we diagnose and treat include:

  • Caudal regression
  • Chiari malformation
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Infant hip dislocation
  • Scoliosis
  • Spina bifida
  • Tethered spinal cord
  • VATER/VACTERL syndrome

Our pediatric spine care services

Our experts want your child's development to be strong and healthy. This means that our approach to their care considers their growing bodies and the unique needs of their spine condition.

Diagnosing spinal conditions

The evaluation of a child with a spinal disorder may include a range of diagnostic exams. Our evaluations are tailored to each child and may include:

  • Neurological assessments
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Skeletal X-rays
  • Ultrasounds
  • Urologic testing

Pediatric spine treatments

Treating spinal conditions varies depending on the severity of the child's condition, their health overall and their ongoing development. Our treatments may include:

  • Medication
  • Multiple spine surgeries
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation services

Treating spinal abnormalities in newborns

Fetal spina bifida (myelomeningocele) is a spinal abnormality that can be identified by ultrasound before the child is born. At our Center for Maternal/Fetal Health, our team takes time to talk with you to discuss treatment options and talk through what this diagnosis might mean for your child. If a child is born with a spine abnormality, our evaluation will involve initial exams by a neurosurgeon and neonatologist.

We also perform prenatal ultrasounds of the head to evaluate for hydrocephalus. After childbirth, surgery may be required to close the abnormality and place a shunt to drain excess fluid from the brain. Later evaluations by specialists in orthopedic care and neurological care are essential to make sure all concerns are addressed. To discuss the latest options in fetal or newborn spine conditions, contact our maternal-fetal health team at (720) 754-7642.

After the newborn's initial hospital stay, a treatment and follow-up plan is designed for each child depending on his or her individual needs and challenges.

Spine rehabilitation

Children with spinal disorders need to learn to adapt to their physical limitations as they grow. Our physical therapy specialists will work with your child or teen on a care plan tailored to their needs. Kids also have access to a wide range of assistive devices — crutches, braces and wheelchairs — to help them achieve independence as fully as possible. With new techniques, children also can learn to be independent with their bladder and bowel function.

Our program uses a team approach to improve communication between the members of our team, your primary car physicians, you and your child.

Pediatric scoliosis care

We offer specialized scoliosis care, including vertebral body tethering (VBT) procedures.

Our program

The spine has natural curves that protect the nervous system and allow your body to move naturally. Often called the backbone, your spine is made up of many bones, called vertebrae, that run from the base of your skull to your tailbone. Pediatric scoliosis is a musculoskeletal disorder that causes the spine to curve sideways, either to the left or right.

When the spine’s natural curves become abnormal, it can lead to neck and back pain, headaches and reduced range of motion. The spine program at our facility is home to some of the region’s most experienced physicians who treat scoliosis in children.

While some cases of pediatric scoliosis require treatment, children with milder cases may only need regular physician monitoring to ensure normal growth.

Vertebral body tethering (VBT) for scoliosis

Our highly trained pediatric spine surgeon/scoliosis expert was the first in the Rocky Mountain Region to offer this lifechanging treatment.

Vertebral body tethering (also called VBT or spinal tethering) is a minimally invasive, fusionless surgery that treats the most common form of scoliosis — idiopathic scoliosis. Because this innovative treatment leverages a child’s natural growth to straighten and align the spine, this procedure is most appropriate if your child is still growing and between ages 8-15.

Benefits of VBT

If your young one requires surgical correction of scoliosis, you may often hear about spinal fusion surgery. This treatment involves using metal rods and bone grafts to combine several vertebrae. This stops the spine from growing, often changing the spine’s anatomy and limiting mobility. There are many benefits to VBT over spinal fusion for your growing child, including:

  • Mobility – VBT has been shown to preserve the spine’s range of motion. For your child, this preserves their ability to perform at high levels in sports and other activities.
  • Recovery – VBT’s minimally invasive techniques lead to shorter hospital stays and faster recovery times; in fact, your child may be up and walking on the same day as the procedure. They are also allowed to return to their sporting activities earlier compared to fusion.
  • Effective – VBT has been shown to reduce the size of the scoliosis curve. Your child may need more than one surgery in order to achieve an optimal result.
  • Safe – VBT has been shown to have fewer neurologic complications, fewer infections and less blood loss.

Candidates for VBT

A good candidate for VBT is one who:

  • Is still growing
  • Has a spinal curve of 35-65 degrees
  • Has an idiopathic scoliosis diagnosis
  • Has tried bracing but the curve has progressed or worsened
  • Is generally between ages of 8-15

If you are interested in VBT but fall outside of these specific criteria, please contact us to discuss your specific case. Many factors are considered when determining a treatment for your child’s scoliosis. To learn if your child is a candidate for VBT, talk to Dr. Riley and his team.

Scoliosis second-opinion clinic

When faced with a scoliosis diagnosis, you may have concerns about the implications of non-treatment, worry about which treatment is best and have fears about surgery. You may want to hear from several different experts before making a treatment decision. That’s why our team provides second-opinion care. If your child has received a diagnosis and treatment plan, but you still want to explore other options — or simply receive confirmation that it is the best option — contact us. We will review your child’s case, answer questions and share information about what treatment plan we think would be best for your child’s long-term wellbeing. Whether you pursue treatment with our team or elsewhere, we want to be a helpful resource for you during your scoliosis journey. Contact us at (303) 861-2663 to learn more.

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Jaren Riley, MD, pediatric orthopedic spine surgeon at Rocky Mountain Pediatric OrthoONE, treats spinal disorders in infants and children up to the age of 18. Our locations on the campus of Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center and Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children allows us to provide a comprehensive assessment of all spine conditions.