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Scoliosis


Alternative Names:

Spinal curvature; Infantile scoliosis; Juvenile scoliosis

Causes, incidence, and risk factors:

Most of the time, the cause of scoliosis is unknown. This is called idiopathic scoliosis. It is the most common type. It is grouped by age.

  • In children age 3 and younger, it is called infantile scoliosis.
  • In kids age 4 - 10, it is called juvenile scoliosis.
  • In older kids age 11 - 18, it is called adolescent scoliosis.

Scoliosis most often affects girls. Some people are just more likely to have curving of the spine. Curving generally gets worse during a growth spurt.

Other types of scoliosis are:

  • Congenital scoliosis: This type of scoliosis is present at birth. It occurs when the baby’s ribs or spine bones do not form properly.
  • Neuromuscular scoliosis: This type is caused by a nervous system problem that affects your muscles, such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, and polio.
Support Groups:

See: Scoliosis - support group

Expectations (prognosis):

How well you do depends on the type, cause, and severity of the curve. The more severe the curving, the more likely it will get worse after you stop growing.

People with mild scoliosis do very well with braces. They usually do not have long-term problems. However, scoliosis can make you more likely to have back pain when you get older.

The outlook for those with neuromuscular or congenital scoliosis varies. Patients with neuromuscular scoliosis have another serious disorder (like cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy) so their goals are much different. Often the goal of surgery is simply to allow a child to be able to sit upright in a wheelchair.

Congenital scoliosis is difficult to treat and usually requires many surgeries.

Complications:

Complications of scoliosis can include:

  • Breathing problems (in severe scoliosis)
  • Low back pain
  • Lower self-esteem
  • Persistent pain if there is wear and tear of the spine bones
  • Spinal infection after surgery
  • Spine or nerve damage from an uncorrected curve or spinal surgery
Calling your health care provider:

Call your health care provider if you suspect your child may have scoliosis.

Prevention:

Routine scoliosis screening is now done in middle and junior high schools.

Screening has helped detect early scoliosis in many kids.

References:

Hedequist DJ. Surgical treatment of congenital scoliosis. Orthop Clin North Am. 2007;38:497-509, vi.

Lonner BS. Emerging minimally invasive technologies for the management of scoliosis. Orthop Clin North Am. 2007;38:431-440.


Review Date: 9/21/2011
Reviewed By: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.., and Dennis Ogiela, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon, Danbury Hospital, Danbury, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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