An abnormal curve of the spine, resembling an “S” or “C” may be scoliosis, a common musculoskeletal disorder. Scoliosis is especially common in adolescents, but can affect adults as well, often for varying reasons.
Who is at risk of developing scoliosis?
There isn’t a known cause for many types of scoliosis. Some theories suggest that scoliosis is:
- Linked to growth spurts
- Sometimes caused by structural changes, for example if one leg is longer than the other, or central nervous system changes
- Often caused by problems with posture and body symmetry.
Infantile scoliosis occurs when scoliosis is diagnosed before the child is 3 years old, and there is no known singular cause. Juvenile scoliosis is diagnosed between the ages of 4 and 10. Some patients with juvenile scoliosis have an underlying spinal condition, but the majority do not. Young children with scoliosis frequently need surgical treatment.
Roughly 10 percent of children between the ages of 10 and 15 years old will be diagnosed with scoliosis, stemming from periods of rapid growth during this age. Girls at this age are 10 times more likely to have scoliosis than boys.
What are the signs of scoliosis?
Scoliosis may not be obvious until the spine is severely curved and is often painless, so it is recommended that children be screened for scoliosis at least twice – for girls during the ages between 10 and 12, and for boys during the ages of 13 and 14.
There are a few changes to be aware of that could signal scoliosis:
- A shoulder, shoulder blade, ribs, hips, or waist could be uneven.
- Ribs may stick up when bending forward.
- Waist or head may not be centered.
- Back pain could develop as scoliosis worsens.
How is scoliosis diagnosed?
A doctor will perform a full examination of the back, chest, feet, legs, and pelvis to look for signs of a curvature. If scoliosis is diagnosed and treatment is needed, physical therapy, bracing, or surgery may be recommended depending on the cause and severity of the condition.
Many children with scoliosis will not develop problems, will not need treatment, and will have only a slight curve.
We check for scoliosis at annual physical or checkups – which your child should have. If you have any questions or need an appointment, please give us a call.
There is a new app developed by orthopedic specialists that can help parents check their child for signs of scoliosis. The app is called SpineScreen and is available on the App Store and Google Play store. Early detection is helpful for treating scoliosis, so this app is a quick, convenient way for parents to monitor any changes in a child’s spine.