Scoliosis-Child

Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine, or backbone. Instead of a straight vertical line from the neck to the buttocks, the spine has a C- or S-shape. Types of scoliosis include: Scoliosis may also be described as infantile, juvenile, or adolescent based on the child's age at onset.

  • Causes

    The different types of scoliosis have different causes.

    Structural scoliosis—classified by the cause of the vertebral body defect:

    • Congenital—defect occurs during fetal development
    • Syndromic—defect occurs as a result of an underlying health condition that affects the nerves, muscles, or bones in the back and spine
    • Idiopathic—defect occurs without a specific cause, but is likely due to a combination of multiple genetic factors

    Functional scoliosis may be caused by:

    • Muscle imbalances
    • Differing leg lengths
    • Conditions that cause muscles to remain tense and spasm

    In some cases, scoliosis may be caused by damage to the vertebral body from:

    • Injury
    • Infection
    • Tumors

  • Definition

    Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine, or backbone. Instead of a straight vertical line from the neck to the buttocks, the spine has a C- or S-shape.

    Types of scoliosis include:

    • Structural—curvature with spinal deformity:
      • Congenital
      • Syndromic
      • Idiopathic
    • Functional—curvature without spinal deformity

    Scoliosis may also be described as infantile, juvenile, or adolescent based on the child's age at onset.

    Scoliosis
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  • Diagnosis

    You will be asked about your child's symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Scoliosis can be diagnosed on examination of the back and spine. The exam may include:

    • Assessing posture and spinal curvature in the upright position
    • Adam's forward bend test to:
      • Look at spinal curvature
      • Detect imbalances in the rib cage
      • Look for other abnormalities along the back
    • Pattern of movement while walking
    • Checking the skin to look for abnormal lesions
    • Scoliometer—a measurement device used to assess the curvature and rotation of the spine

    X-rays are usually done to:

    • Check the severity of scoliosis by measuring the Cobb angle
    • Detect vertebral or structural abnormalities
    • Assess level and pace of bone development.

    Your child's doctor may recommend other tests to see if the scoliosis is caused by underlying health condition.

  • Prevention


    There are no guidelines for preventing scoliosis because the cause is usually unknown.

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase your child's risk of developing syndromic scoliosis include having conditions that affect muscles and nerves, such as muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy.

    Idiopathic scoliosis is more common during the rapid growth phase of adolescence. Family history of scoliosis may also increase your child's chance of developing scoliosis.

    Girls are more likely to have more severe curves. Scoliosis severity may also be influenced by:

    • Delayed puberty in boys and girls
    • Delayed first period in girls

  • Symptoms

    In most cases, scoliosis doesn't have symptoms that can be felt. It is generally detected during a screening test, but may be noticed by the child or another person.

    Some schools have
    scoliosis screening programs. If scoliosis is detected in school, you will be advised to follow-up with your doctor.

    Scoliosis may may cause:

    • Uneven shoulders
    • Prominent shoulder blade or ribs
    • Uneven waist
    • An elevated hip
    • Leaning to one side
    • Chronic back pain—rare in teens, but more common in adults

    More severe cases of scoliosis can lead to:

    • Body image issues
    • Breathing difficulties due to pressure on the lungs and heart from a compressed rib cage
    • Rarely, cor pulmonale—right-sided heart failure caused by high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs

  • Treatment

    Functional scoliosis is reversible with treatment of the underlying condition.

    Children with structural types of scoliosis will be referred to a spinal specialist if treatment is needed.

    Scoliosis treatment depends on many factors. These include:

    • Severity of the curve
    • Child's age
    • Child's stage of growth
    • If back pain is involved, or other if your child has other symptoms

    In general, children with a mild curve are treated with observation. This means your child will have regular follow-up exams and sometimes x-rays to see if the curve worsens. Frequency of follow-up appointments depends on age, stage of growth, and the severity of the curve.

    Other treatment methods include: