Get Ahead of the Curve

Originally published by St. Louis Children's Hospital

Scoliosis is a condition that causes the spine to curve in an S or C shape.

Munish Gupta, MD, a Washington University spine surgeon and chief of adult and pediatric spinal surgery at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, answers questions about this common problem.

What causes scoliosis?

Dr. Gupta: Scoliosis occurs when the spine curves more than 10 degrees. It can run in families and is more common in girls. But most of the time, we don’t know why it happens. We often see scoliosis in children ages 10 to 18.

What symptoms may appear?

Dr. Gupta: Often, there are none. Some children may have back pain. Others have uneven hips or shoulders or a curved spine that’s very obvious.

How is it treated?

Dr. Gupta: If the curve is less than 30 degrees, the child receives regular X-rays. A child who has a curve between 30 and 50 degrees may need to wear a scoliosis brace. A child with a curve of more than 50 degrees may need surgery to straighten the spine. With treatment, children with scoliosis can live normal lives.    

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