Scoliosis

  • What is Scoliosis?

    Scoliosis is a musculoskeletal disorder in which there is a sideways curvature of the spine, or backbone. Of every 1,000 children, three to five develop spinal curves that are considered large enough to need treatment. Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (scoliosis of unknown cause) is the most common type and occurs around the ages of 10-12 and in the early teens. This is the time when children are growing fast. Girls are more likely than boys to have this type of scoliosis.

    Scoliosis can run in families. A child who has a parent, brother, or sister with idiopathic scoliosis should have regular checkups by their family doctor. Untreated, scoliosis curves may become larger, causing pain, interfering with the function of the spine, or making breathing difficult.

    How is Scoliosis Identified?

    Healthcare Providers (HCP) use a medical and family history, physical examination, and tests when checking a person for scoliosis. An x-ray of the spine can help the HCP decide if a person has scoliosis. The x-ray lets the HCP measure the size of the curve and see its location, shape, and pattern.

    Why is Screening Important?

    Screening preadolescents and young adolescents for scoliosis is important because there are treatments available to help prevent permanent damage or worsening curvature of the spine.

    What are the Potential Treatments for Scoliosis?

    Many children who are diagnosed with scoliosis have very mild spinal curves that do not need treatment. When a child does need treatment, the HCP may send him or her to an orthopedic spine specialist. The HCP will suggest the best treatment for each patient based on the patient's age, how much more he or she is likely to grow, the measurement (in degrees) and pattern of the curve, and the type of scoliosis. The HCP may recommend observation, bracing, or surgery.

    Where Can You Get Your Child Screened?

    Your child is at an important age in his or her growth and physical development. A scoliosis screening should be a part of every physical examination for preteens and early adolescents. Contact your child's HCP to schedule an annual scoliosis screening and physical examination for your child.

    Where Can You Get More Information?