Are you born with scoliosis?

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?

Idiopathic 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.

Congenital scoliosis

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:

  • 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).

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.

Juvenile Idiopathic Scoliosis

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.

Juvenile scoliosis

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 is higher amongst females.

Unfortunately, juvenile scoliosis carries with it a relatively high chance of progression. 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.

Diagnosing scoliosis in children

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 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 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.

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.

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