When you're told for the first time that you have scoliosis, the diagnosis instantly raises a whole host of questions. How will this affect my daily life? Am I going to be in lots of pain? Will I need surgery?
Of course, if you're planning to have children at some point in your life, there's another big question that may well pop into your head:
Will my child have scoliosis too?
We at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic are often asked this question by patients who are still learning about their condition. It seems as though a lot of scoliosis sufferers are troubled by the possibility that they might pass on their spinal curvature to their son or daughter, so today we'd like to take a closer look at this issue.
Is scoliosis passed on genetically?
For the purposes of this discussion, we're going to talk exclusively about idiopathic scoliosis, by far the condition's most common form. If your scoliosis is non-idiopathic and arose because of some underlying condition (such as osteoporosis or Marfan syndrome), you will need to research the underlying condition in order to assess the likelihood that your child will be affected.
Idiopathic scoliosis, by definition, has no known cause, but it seems to occur as a result of genetic factors. However, that absolutely does not mean that idiopathic scoliosis sufferers always bear scoliotic children. Here are some statistics that may put your mind at ease:
- Just 1 in 4 scoliosis sufferers (approx.) have at least one other case of scoliosis in their family.
- If you are the child or sibling of a scoliosis sufferer, you have roughly an 11% chance of developing the condition yourself.
Bear in mind that lots of other variables still apply here: for example, scoliosis is far more likely to occur in females, so the risk of passing scoliosis on to your child is significantly lower if you're expecting a boy.
How do I check if my child has scoliosis?
Here's how to check your child for signs of scoliosis:
- Ask your child to stand in front of you with their back to you. They will need to take off their top so that you can see their back and spine.
- Firstly, check to see if both sides of their neck, shoulders, rib cage, waist and hips look even and symmetrical.
- Secondly, ask your child to bend forwards from the waist. Look at both sides of their rib cage: does one side appear higher than the other?
This is called the Adams forward bending test - watch this video for a demonstration:
Remember, every body is unique, so some minor differences are to be expected - this may not indicate the presence of scoliosis. That being said, if you are concerned, it is a good idea to get your child checked by a medical professional.
If your child develops scoliosis...
Even if your child does develop a spinal curve as they grow, it's important to remember that scoliosis sufferers can live just as well as people with healthy spines. Young scoliosis sufferers should be monitored closely, as medical observation will ensure that treatment can begin right away if and when it becomes necessary. Tackling scoliosis early (i.e. before the curve can progress too far) goes a long way towards limiting the condition's effect on the patient's health and quality of life - watch the video below for a real-life example of this (Lottie, a 12 year-old girl from Surrey).
An exercise-based treatment course that is specifically tailored to scoliosis patients (such as our own ScolioGold method) can be very effective at combating scoliosis, especially when it is still at an early stage. If you or your child need scoliosis treatment, please feel free to contact Scoliosis SOS and arrange a consultation with our scoliosis consultants.