- Patient Care
- Pediatric and Adolescent Orthopedic Surgery
- Pediatric Spine Patient Education Overview
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 — no known cause. This is the 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:
- Congenital Deformities
- Genetic Syndromes
- Neuromuscular problems
- Limb length inequality
- Cerebral Palsy
- Spina Bifida
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Spinal Muscular Atrophy
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?
- Who noted the problem?
- Patient’s perinatal history?
- Meet on normal milestones?
- Family history of scoliosis? Back problems?
- Numbness/ tingling in legs?
- Bowel or bladder problems?
What is the treatment for Scoliosis?
- Curves under 20 degrees require observation
- X-rays once every 6 months until the patient is done growing
- Bracing: 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.
- 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
What are the effects of scoliosis?
- Back Pain
- Cosmetic appearance
- Decrease lung capacity and exercise tolerance
What factors determine treatment?
- Bone age
- Degree of curvature of spine
- Location of curvature
- When menses was started
- Increase of curve
- Back pain
- Shortness of breath