Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine that occurs most often during the growth spurt just before puberty. While scoliosis can be caused by conditions such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy, the cause of most scoliosis is unknown.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of scoliosis may include:

  • Uneven shoulders
  • One shoulder blade that appears more prominent than the other
  • Uneven waist
  • One hip higher than the other

If a scoliosis curve gets worse, the spine will also rotate or twist, in addition to curving side to side. This causes the ribs on one side of the body to stick out farther than on the other side.

Treatments

Most children with scoliosis have mild curves and probably won't need treatment with a brace or surgery. Children who have mild scoliosis may need checkups every four to six months to see if there have been changes in the curvature of their spines.

While there are guidelines for mild, moderate and severe curves, the decision to begin treatment is always made on an individual basis. Factors to be considered include:

  • Sex. Girls have a much higher risk of progression than do boys.
  • The severity of the curve. Larger curves are more likely to worsen with time.
  • Curve pattern. Double curves, also known as S-shaped curves, tend to worsen more often than do C-shaped curves.
  • Location of the curve. Curves located in the center (thoracic) section of the spine worsens more often than do curves in the upper or lower sections of the spine.
  • Maturity. If a child's bones have stopped growing, the risk of curve progression is low. That also means that braces have the most effect in children whose bones are still growing.

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