Scoliosis can potentially occur at any stage of a person’s life. Some people grow up with curved spines, while others develop scoliosis in their old age. Every scoliosis sufferer’s story is different.
With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that there’s no single, straightforward answer to the question we’re discussing today: are you born with scoliosis?
By far the most common form of scoliosis is idiopathic scoliosis – that is, a sideways spinal curvature that occurs without any clear cause.
Idiopathic scoliosis usually doesn’t develop until the pre-teen / teenage years, so it would be incorrect to say that one is ‘born’ with this type of scoliosis. However, idiopathic scoliosis is widely believed to be rooted in genetic causes, so it might be said that some people are born with the genes that will one day manifest as a progressive spinal curve.
While scoliosis most commonly occurs during adolescence, it is occasionally the case that a visible spinal curvature is present from birth. Babies born with scoliosis are said to have congenital scoliosis, a condition that occurs when the baby’s spine doesn’t develop properly in the womb. A baby with congenital scoliosis may have multiple vertebrae joined together, or one or more vertebrae that didn’t form completely.
Scoliosis in later life
Even if you weren’t born with scoliosis and you didn’t develop a spinal curve during your teenage years, there’s no guarantee that you won’t be affected by scoliosis later in life. Scoliosis can occur in fully-grown adults for a number of reasons, including:
Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we treat scoliosis in patients of all ages, from young children to people in their 60s, 70s and beyond. If you would like to arrange an initial consultation, please fill out our enquiry form here.
- Asymmetric degeneration. The human body deteriorates with age, and if one side of your body deteriorates more rapidly than the other, this may result in a sideways spinal curve.
- Osteoporosis, a loss of bone density that is most common in post-menopausal women (read about osteoporosis here).
- Spondylolisthesis, where a vertebra slips out of place (read about spondylolisthesis here).
If your child is suffering from back pain, stiffness or discomfort, it may be a good idea to check them juvenile scoliosis. Juvenile scoliosis is usually diagnosed between the ages of 4 and 10. In patients aged 4-5, the condition is equally common amongst boys and girls; however, from the age of 6 upwards, the rate of occurrence of juvenile scoliosis is higher amongst females.
Unfortunately, juvenile scoliosis carries with it a relatively high chance of progression into a more severe form of the condition. The statistics state that as many as 7 out of 10 children with this condition will see it worsen as they grow, and in most cases of juvenile scoliosis, the curve will not rectify itself over time.
Diagnosing juvenile scoliosis
You can check your child for signs of juvenile scoliosis by looking to see if they have uneven shoulders, hips or ribs. The most common test used to assess juvenile scoliosis is the Adams forward bending test, which requires the child to bend at the waist, let their arms hang down, and place their feet together. In this position, it is easy to observe any abnormalities your child may have. We talk you through a simple test for juvenile scoliosis here.
See also: Will my child have scoliosis?
A medical professional should be consulted to professionally diagnose your child if you suspect they may have juvenile scoliosis. At your consultation, the examiner will be able to accurately measure the severity of the juvenile scoliosis. If scoliosis is suspected, the next step of the diagnosis will be an MRI scan to ensure that the curvature is not being caused by any underlying conditions that might be affecting the spine.
What causes juvenile scoliosis?
Sometimes the MRI scan will reveal the underlying cause of the patient’s spinal curve, but in most cases, the cause of juvenile scoliosis is unknown. However, it is widely believed amongst most medical professionals that scoliosis can be inherited. The reason for this is because scoliosis often develops in multiple members of the same family.
Nevertheless, genetic inheritance cannot be proven as the cause of juvenile scoliosis because the condition does not develop in a traditional pattern. Many scoliosis sufferers have children who never develop a spinal curve; likewise, many children who do develop scoliosis have no history of spinal problems in the family.
Treating juvenile scoliosis
There are several ways to treat cases of juvenile scoliosis, including physiotherapy, bracing, serial casting, and in severe cases, surgery. Physiotherapy is usually recommended for mild juvenile curves (between 10 and 20 degrees), whereas curves greater than 20 degrees may require both physiotherapy and bracing.
Once a curve surpasses 45 degrees, hard bracing is usually recommended until your child is of a suitable age to undergo surgery. This helps stunt the progression of the curve and provides more comfort for your child until their juvenile scoliosis can be rectified.
Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we provide surgery-free treatment for people of all ages who are suffering with scoliosis. Our treatment courses are effective for any degree of scoliosis, helping to halt and even reverse the progression of the spinal curve. Visit our Results page to see some before/after photos of our younger patients with juvenile scoliosis.
Click here to find out more about our non-surgical scoliosis treatment programme for children and adults. If you think you or your child may be suffering from scoliosis, contact us today to book your initial consultation with Scoliosis SOS.