Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common type of spinal abnormality, referring to an excessive sideways curvature of the spine that occurs for no known reason. Idiopathic scoliosis is usually diagnosed during adolescence, but it can also be found in younger children; when diagnosed between the ages of 4 and 10, it is known as juvenile idiopathic scoliosis.
This form of scoliosis accounts for around 10-15% of all idiopathic scoliosis in children, and unlike adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, it affects more boys than girls.
How is juvenile idiopathic scoliosis diagnosed?
Juvenile idiopathic scoliosis can be recognised by the following symptoms:
- Misaligned shoulder blades
- Clothes that hang unevenly
- One leg shorter than the other
- Uneven hips
- Back pain
- Respiratory/cardiovascular issues
If your child is affected by any of the above, the first thing to do is book an appointment with your GP. If your GP believes your child may have juvenile idiopathic scoliosis, they will then pass you onto a specialist who will be able to diagnose the extent of the curvature. They will also be able to recommend a treatment plan to help reduce the curvature of the spine and minimise any pain or discomfort.
How can juvenile idiopathic scoliosis be treated?
Juvenile idiopathic scoliosis tends to get progressively worse (i.e. the angle of the curve increases) if not treated. Fortunately, there are many ways in which juvenile idiopathic scoliosis can be treated, usually starting with a brace to stop the progression of the curvature.
Observation is then used to determine whether the curvature continues to worsen as the child grows or if their condition becomes stable. If the curvature continues to progress, your child may need to undergo further treatment for their juvenile idiopathic scoliosis:
- Casting - Serial casting is sometimes used before bracing in an attempt to delay the need for bracing. Casting is harder to remove than bracing, so some parents may find this easier if their child is reluctant to co-operate.
- Surgery - In severe cases of juvenile scoliosis, surgical procedures such as spinal fusion or the insertion of magnetic growing rods may be required to halt the progression of the curvature. However, bracing may still be required while your child is still growing.
- Physiotherapy - Exercises and stretches are often more preferable for a parent who does not want to put their child through the pain of surgery. The ScolioGold treatment courses we deliver here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic use a range of different non-surgical methods to reduce the curvature of the patient's scoliosis. Click here to view patient results.
If you'd like to find out more about the Scoliosis SOS Clinic and our non-surgical scoliosis treatment courses, please contact us today.
We at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic are very proud to announce that we recently had our first piece of research published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. The article, Current knowledge of scoliosis in physiotherapy students trained in the United Kingdom (Black et al, Scoliosis and Spinal Disorders 2017) was published online on the 27th September and can be read in full here.
What were we researching?
Put simply, we wanted to know how much UK physiotherapists know about scoliosis. In both Poland and the USA, it has been recognised that physiotherapy students have relatively little knowledge of idiopathic scoliosis, how it affects the human body, and how to factor a spinal curve into a patient's treatment regime; with that in mind, we wanted to measure UK students' familiarity with this condition.
To do this, we composed a 10-question survey and distributed it (via course leaders) to students at all UK universities that offer physiotherapy degrees. Questions on the survey included:
- What is the definition of idiopathic scoliosis?
- What causes idiopathic scoliosis?
- When does idiopathic scoliosis commonly develop?
- What percentage of scoliosis cases are idiopathic?
- What physical activities are most/least beneficial for patients with scoliosis? (multiple choice question - options included yoga, swimming, martial arts, etc.)
In the end, a total of 206 students at 12 different institutions in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland completed our survey, giving us a good sample size to analyse.
What were our findings?
Of the students who responded to our survey:
- 79% successfully identified when idiopathic scoliosis commonly develops
- 54% knew when bracing is recommended
- 52% correctly identified that the causes of idiopathic scoliosis are not known
- 24% recognised that scoliosis is idiopathic in approximately 80% of cases
- 12% knew the criteria for diagnosing idiopathic scoliosis
- 7% were able to recognise the best treatment approach through physical therapy
Overall, just 7% of students surveyed were able to answer more than half of the questionnaire correctly. Based on this, our conclusion was that there is a clear lack of scoliosis knowledge among UK physiotherapy students - a lack of knowledge that has the potential to impact patients who receive information and treatment from physiotherapists in this country.
Click here to view more scoliosis research, or visit our ScolioGold page to learn about the exercise-based scoliosis treatment we provide here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic.
Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common type of scoliosis
(a condition where the spine curves sideways). Approximately 8 out of 10 cases of scoliosis are classed as 'idiopathic', meaning that there is no known cause for the patient's spinal curvature.
What does 'idiopathic' mean?
The word 'idiopathic' essentially means 'without a clear underlying cause'. It is derived from the Greek words 'idios' (one's own) and 'pathos' (suffering). If a disease or condition is idiopathic, it seemingly develops on its own rather than as the result of another condition.
While the cause of idiopathic scoliosis is often a complete mystery, it is believed to occur for any number of reasons, including:
More commonly, however, scoliosis occurs with no apparent underlying cause. This is called idiopathic scoliosis.
Who does idiopathic scoliosis affect?
In theory, idiopathic scoliosis can affect anyone at any time of life. In the vast majority of cases, however, idiopathic scoliosis develops during adolescence, with the appearance of the curve roughly coinciding with the onset of puberty.
- Infantile idiopathic scoliosis is diagnosed in children between 0 and 3 years of age.
- Juvenile idiopathic scoliosis is diagnosed in children aged between 3 and 9 years of age.
- Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is diagnosed between the ages of 10 and 18
These are the most common times for idiopathic scoliosis to be diagnosed and early detection allows children and young adults to be monitored and treated before their curvature becomes too severe. If not treated early, idiopathic scoliosis patients may require spinal surgery.
Scoliosis is more common in females than in males
, and adolescent girls are more likely to develop idiopathic scoliosis than any other sex/age group, so it's important you check your child for idiopathic scoliosis regularly if you think they may be at risk. We teach you how you can check your child for scoliosis at home in this blog.
What causes idiopathic scoliosis?
The cause of idiopathic scoliosis is, by definition, unknown. If we knew why it happened, it wouldn't be idiopathic!
That being said, it is widely thought that idiopathic scoliosis occurs due to genetic factors
. In fact, it was reported in 2016 that researchers at a Japanese university had potentially identified the gene responsible for triggering spinal curvature: it's called LBX1 and you can read about it here
Is there a cure for idiopathic scoliosis?
Idiopathic scoliosis cannot be 'cured', as such, but it is often possible to arrest and even reverse the progression of the patient's spinal curve before it grows too severe. Depending on the patient's circumstances and the severity of their condition, they may be treated via bracing, surgery, physical therapy, or a combination of these methods.
to learn more about treatment options available to idiopathic scoliosis sufferers, or visit our ScolioGold
page to learn about how we treat curvatures of the spine here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic using exercise-based therapy.
If you have any questions about idiopathic scoliosis, or if you're interested in our treatment options, give us a call on 0207 488 4428, or fill in our enquiry form below.
Idiopathic scoliosis is by far the most common type of scoliosis, mostly affecting young people between the ages of 10 and 18. It usually develops during puberty, when the body is growing rapidly, although this type of scoliosis isn't exclusive to teenagers - it can potentially affect anyone at any time of life. This makes idiopathic scoliosis treatment common amongst all age groups, depending on the severity of the curvature.
While idiopathic scoliosis has – by definition – no known cause, we do know that it does NOT arise due to specific behaviours/activities like carrying heavy loads or sitting with poor posture for prolonged periods.
Idiopathic scoliosis varies in severity, but milder curves are more common than extreme angles. People of all genders can be affected by the condition; however, it is more common in women than in men
, and female patients are more likely to develop large spinal curves that require medical treatment.
Idiopathic scoliosis treatment methods
Idiopathic scoliosis treatment will depend on the severity of the curve, and in children, it can be difficult to judge whether or not treatment is required at all. If the patient is young enough to still be growing, there is a chance that the spine will straighten out over time; however, the patient will still be monitored closely (with regular X-rays) to observe whether or not the curve is progressing. It is crucial to know whether the angle of the curve is decreasing, increasing, or staying the same, as this will determine the best cause of action to treat the curve.
Common idiopathic scoliosis treatment methods include:
- Surgery (although this is only recommended for severe cases)
If idiopathic scoliosis treatment is deemed necessary, we at Scoliosis SOS can help. The idiopathic scoliosis treatment courses we deliver are slightly different for younger scoliosis sufferers, but the main principles are the same for everyone: instead of correcting the spine using a back brace or surgical methods, we use an exercise-based treatment programme to achieve improvements. Our highly-qualified physiotherapists use a range of techniques (listed here) to reduce the patient’s Cobb angle, improve posture, boost mobility and muscle strength, relieve pain, and enhance the patient's overall quality of life.
Our ScolioGold courses are hugely popular among scoliosis sufferers of all ages, and the treatment we offer is safe and hugely effective, as these X-rays demonstrate.
If you’d like to find out more about our idiopathic scoliosis treatment courses, please get in touch to arrange an initial consultation with Scoliosis SOS.