Scoliosis in Children

Scoliosis in Children Can Often Go Unnoticed

Scoliosis often does not have any noticeable symptoms in children and teenagers. When it is seen in children, there is room for concern because the skeletons of children and young adults grow quickly. This means the degree of the spinal curve may worsen as the spine continues to grow. Rarely, untreated scoliosis can become so bad that it restricts the space in the ribcage needed for optimal heart and lung function.

Idiopathic scoliosis is NOT caused by activities such as exercise, sports, or lifting heavy things. It is also not caused from sleeping position, posture, or slight differences in leg length. With that said, the condition is aggravated by arching your back.

Idiopathic scoliosis, which is the most common form, is broken down by 3 age groups:​

  • Infant (0 to 3 years)
  • Juvenile (4 to 10 years)
  • Adolescent (11 to 18 years)

Infantile idiopathic scoliosis occurs before the age of 3 and is seen more in boys than girls, unlike juvenile or adolescent idiopathic scoliosis . Most cases resolve spontaneously, but treatment may be recommended to prevent the curve from causing a more severe deformity.

Juvenile idiopathic scoliosis happens between the ages of 3 and 9. The condition is found more frequently in girls than boys. The abnormal spinal curvatures in children at this age are generally at a high risk for progression.

Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) occurs between the age of 10 and 18 and is by far the most common type of scoliosis. AIS usually becomes more apparent or worsen during an adolescent’s growth spurt, when girls are at higher risk than boys.

Congenital scoliosis is rare but occurs when a child develops a lateral curvature of the spine during the period of fetal growth in the womb. Congenital scoliosis means abnormal development is the cause of the condition. Congenital scoliosis happens when the spine fails to form properly or segments fuse together during fetal development. The defects in the spine can be minor or result in a more severe deformity.

Neuromuscular scoliosis is when a neurological or muscular disease is causing the scoliosis. The severity of this condition is extremely variable due to the wide variety of these types of diseases.

Scoliosis Symptoms

  • Spine may appear to have a "C" or "S" shape
  • Tilted head, uneven shoulders or hips
  • The torso will rotate, which pulls the belly button off center
  • Clothing/apparel may hang unevenly on the body
  • One shoulder blade is often higher than the other which aggravates a "rib hump"
  • Easily winded during physical activities
  • Fatigued after physical activity, including sitting or standing
  • Pain in spine between the shoulder blades and at the base of the rib cage
  • Headaches