What is scoliosis?Last updated: Jun 11, 2012
Scoliosis is condition that causes the spine to curve abnormally. Although it can affect boys, scoliosis is most common in girls. In most cases, there is no known cause for scoliosis, but research suggests there can be a genetic predisposition for it.
Types of scoliosis include:
- Congenital scoliosis, which occurs when an infant’s spine and ribs do not form properly
- Idiopathic scoliosis, which occurs with no known cause
- Neuromuscular scoliosis, which results from nervous system problems that affect the muscles such as polio, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, and muscular dystrophy
Who gets scoliosis?
Toddlers, children, adolescents, and adults can have scoliosis. When it occurs in children age 3 years and younger, it is known as infantile scoliosis. In children age 4 years to 10 years, it is called juvenile scoliosis, and in adolescents age 11 years and older, it is called adolescent scoliosis.
The good news is that scoliosis can usually be treated and managed without surgery.
Scoliosis symptoms can include:
- Uneven shoulders
- Uneven waistline and hips
- A tilted pelvis
- Backache, including lower back pain, especially as you age
- A tired back (or spine) after standing or sitting for long periods
- Problems with posture
How do I know if my child has scoliosis?
To determine whether your child has scoliosis, he or she will have a physical exam that can include:
- An evaluation to see how the spine curves and bends
- X-rays of the spine
- Spine measurement (or scoliometer screening)
Treatment for Scoliosis
Depending on its cause, location, and severity of the spinal curve as well as the age and growth of the child, scoliosis treatment can include:
- Wearing a back brace (only in children with idiopathic scoliosis and usually who are age 10 and older) to stabilize the spine, especially during growth spurts
- Surgery in severe cases to help correct the curve of the spine and prevent the condition from progressing
- Physical therapy
- Regular checkups to measure changes in the spine
“The good news is that spine experts can do many things to help children and adults live with scoliosis,” says Summit Medical Group spine surgeon Ilya Kupershtein, MD. Dr. Kupershtein adds, “Now that schools provide routine scoliosis screening, we are better able to begin treatment early when it can provide the best possible outcomes.”
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