Scoliosis can be a very scary diagnosis, especially if you aren’t exactly sure what it is or what can cause it. Scoliosis is a lateral curvature of the spine to the right or left as you are looking at the spine from behind. There is typically a rotation of the involved spinal segments as well.
There are 3 different types of scoliosis, each the result of a different mechanism:
- Congenital scoliosis– the child is born with the lateral curvature due to an atypical development of the spine in utero.
- Neuromuscular scoliosis– caused by an underlying neuromuscular condition that results in abnormal muscular pull on the spine. Conditions such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida are examples of underlying diagnoses that may result in neuromuscular scoliosis.
- Idiopathic scoliosis-this means that there is no known cause of the scoliosis. This is the most common form of scoliosis and can present in childhood, adolescence, or adulthood.
Adolescents, predominantly female, who are currently or have recently gone through a growth spurt are the most likely to develop scoliosis. Kids between the ages of 10-15 are therefore at the greatest risk. Except for more severe cases, scoliosis is typically not associated with back pain; however, kids with scoliosis are at an increased risk of having back pain during adulthood.
Treatment for scoliosis will depend on the severity of the curvature:
- Conservative-for mild to moderate cases of scoliosis, treatments such as bracing, postural exercises, and physical therapy are used to prevent progression of the curve.
- Surgical-for severe curvatures, surgical placement of rods to maintain a straight spine is often utilized.
Regardless of the type or severity of scoliosis, the key to optimal outcomes is early recognition. With early detection through school screenings or screening from a physician or physical therapist, treatment and monitoring can begin immediately. If you are concerned that your child may have scoliosis, or are looking for treatment for a child with a diagnosis of scoliosis, please see a physical therapist at North Shore Pediatric Therapy.