What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is the side to side curvature of the spine. Every spine has a natural front to back curve. A side to side curve may look like an “S” (double curve) or a “C” (single curve). Scoliosis is more than just a curve to the side - it can also involve twisting/rotation of the spine. A curve that is greater than 10 degrees is considered scoliosis.



What are the types of Scoliosis?

  • Idiopathic, or no known cause. This is most common.
  • Early Onset (0-10 years)
       Infantile (ages 3 years and under)
       Juvenile (ages 3-9 years)
  • Adolescent (ages 10-18 years)
  • Adult (after skeletal maturity)
  • Syndromic — related a diagnosed syndrome
  • Neuromuscular — related to a neurological condition such cerebral palsy, spina bifida, etc.
  • Congenital — related to a misshaped or malformed vertebra or spinal structure.

What is the cause of Scoliosis?
80% of the cases do not have a cause or they are “idiopathic”. Other causes can include:

  • Arthrogryposis
  • Congenital Deformities
  • Genetic Syndromes
  • Neuromuscular problems
  • Limb length inequality
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Spina Bifida
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Spinal Muscular Atrophy
  • Tumors

What are the warning signs of Scoliosis?

  • Shoulder height difference
  • Head is not centered over body
  • Hip imbalance
  • Rib cage asymmetry
  • Changes in look or textures of the skin overlying the spine (hairy patches, color changes)
  • Leaning of entire body on one side

How is it diagnosed?
A diagnosis of scoliosis is made by physical exam, x-rays, and patient history. In some cases, more tests such as MRI and CT are ordered to help guide treatment.

What questions will the Orthopedic Surgeon ask?

  • Age?
  • Who noted the problem?
  • Patient’s perinatal history?
  • Meet on normal milestones?
  • Family history of scoliosis? Back problems?
  • Pain?
  • Numbness/ tingling in legs?
  • Bowel or Bladder problems?

What is the treatment for Scoliosis?

  1. Observation:
    Curves under 20 degrees require observation
    X-rays once every 6 months until the patient is done growing
  2. Bracing: 
    Curves 25-45 degrees
    Prevention of spine curvature worsening
    Visits every 6 months to check spine
    Brace wear is 20 to 24 hours a day until end of growth

    This type of treatment is decided by the surgeon. Braces are a custom fit to your body, and a thin shirt can be worn underneath the brace to prevent skin breakdown. The brace can also be hidden under clothes. 
  3. Surgical
    a. Vertebral Stapling
    b. Spinal Fusion
    c. Grow Rod
    d. Shilla Procedure

What are the effects of scoliosis?

  1. Back Pain
  2. Cosmetic Appearance
  3. Decrease lung capacity and exercise tolerance

What factors determine treatment?

  • age
  • bone age
  • degree of curvature of spine
  • location of curvature
  • when menses was started
  • gender
  • increase of curve
  • back pain
  • shortness of breath

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