The most common form of scoliosis is idiopathic scoliosis
, which usually develops during adolescence and has no known cause (although science is gradually getting closer
to solving that mystery). The vast majority of idiopathic scoliosis patients are diagnosed between the ages of 10 and 18; as a general rule, the characteristic spinal curve does not develop until the onset of puberty, when the body goes through a rapid growth spurt.
However, some people have a type of scoliosis that sets in far earlier - from birth, in fact. This is called congenital scoliosis.
What is congenital scoliosis?
Congenital scoliosis is a type of scoliosis
that is present from birth. If a baby is born with a spine that curves to one side, they are said to have congenital scoliosis.
Congenital scoliosis is caused by irregular development of the bones in the spine while the baby is in the womb. In some cases, congenital scoliosis occurs because one or more vertebrae did not form properly, although a spinal curve can also arise because multiple vertebrae are joined together.
How to spot congenital scoliosis
The symptoms of congenital scoliosis are similar to the symptoms of idiopathic or any other type of scoliosis (although they may be somewhat harder to spot in an infant or small child):
- Uneven hips and/or shoulders
- Rib cage more prominent on one side than the other
- The patient appears to lean to one side
- Clothes do not fit properly
- Numbness, loss of coordination or weakness
Is congenital scoliosis painful?
Every congenital scoliosis patient has a different experience of the condition, and that applies to children born with scoliosis just as much as it applies to those who develop the condition later on. Some scoliosis patients do experience pain, reduced mobility, and/or compromised breathing, but these symptoms are relatively uncommon, especially in their more severe forms.
In cases where congenital scoliosis is linked to a problem with the spinal cord / nervous system, the patient may experience reduced coordination, reduced strength, and/or a feeling of numbness. Again, though, such cases are quite rare.
Treating congenital scoliosis
Scoliosis can be treated in a number of different ways, and congenital scoliosis is no exception. If the patient is still very young, some doctors may recommend simply waiting and monitoring their condition to see whether or not the spinal curve corrects itself as the child grows. This is usually the recommended treatment for congenital scoliosis curves less than 25°.
If congenital scoliosis worsens over time, some doctors may recommend bracing to prevent further deterioration. The brace puts pressure on the patient's lower back, helping to straighten the spine. This can often be uncomfortable and inconvenient, especially for children who want to be able to run around and play restriction-free.
In especially severe cases of congenital scoliosis may be referred for spinal fusion surgery, but this is a major operation and surgery is not usually the preferred treatment route when the patient is a child.
As with other forms of the condition, congenital scoliosis can be effectively managed via exercise-based physiotherapy. We have treated many young children here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic
, and we have seen some real transformations - just visit our Results (4-14 Years Old)
page to see how effective our treatment courses are when it comes to reducing spinal curves.
If you would like to find out more about our treatment courses and how they can benefit congenital scoliosis patients, please call Scoliosis SOS on 0207 488 4428 or click here to book an initial consultation.
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.
Since the vast majority of scoliosis sufferers are diagnosed between the ages of 10 and 15, it's easy to assume that this condition doesn't really affect people either side of that age bracket. Certainly, if you've glanced at our Patient Experiences page, you may be under the impression that everyone we treat is either a teenager or an adult who was diagnosed with scoliosis as a teenager but didn't do anything about it at the time.
But the truth is that scoliosis doesn't always develop within that 5-year window. The condition often makes itself known during adolescence because this is when you go through growth spurts, periods of rapid growth during which the spine becomes more prone to curvature. However, some children do develop scoliosis years prior to hitting puberty (this is known as 'juvenile scoliosis' - see Treating Scoliosis in Young Children
), and many older people who previously had perfectly healthy spines develop scoliosis later in life due to factors such as osteoporosis and the natural ageing and weakening of the human body over time.
So the answer to the question, 'Can you get scoliosis at any age?' is 'Yes - it's most likely to develop during adolescence, but there is ample evidence that the condition can develop earlier or later in life.'
This brings us to question #2...
What treatments are available for scoliosis sufferers?
Scoliosis can be treated in a number of different ways. Spinal fusion surgery is often utilised as a means of correcting the spinal curve, but this is a risky, invasive procedure that many patients would rather avoid. Surgery may be a particularly undesirable course of action if the patient is very young or very old.
Thankfully, there are alternatives. Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we treat scoliosis sufferers using a combination of non-surgical techniques that we collectively refer to as the ScolioGold method - this is an exercise-based regime that helps patients to overcome the symptoms of their spinal curvature and improves their quality of life immeasurably.
Contact us now to arrange an initial consultation at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, or click one of the links below to see the results we've helped patients of different ages to achieve.
Scoliosis is relatively uncommon amongst young children. In most cases of scoliosis, the patient's spinal curve doesn't develop until adolescence, and so the majority of the people we treat here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic are at least old enough to be in secondary school.
However, that's not to say we haven't welcomed our share of younger patients to the Clinic - in fact, we've treated scoliosis in children as young as 4!
How does our treatment differ when the patient is a young child?
One of the most difficult things about treating scoliosis in young children is judging whether or not any treatment is even required. If the child is still growing, there is a chance that their spinal curve will straighten itself out over time; however, it's also possible that the curve will progress (grow more severe), and this in turn can affect the development of other parts of the patient's body, including vital internal organs.
For this reason, observation is absolutely crucial when treating a young scoliosis sufferer. It's very important to know whether the curve is progressing, improving, or simply staying the same, as this will determine the most appropriate course of action. Best practice is to take regular X-rays and monitor the patient's condition for a time before deciding what treatment - if any - is required.
The treatment courses
we deliver are somewhat different for younger patients, but the key principles remain the same: instead of correcting the spine's curve using surgical methods or a scoliosis brace, we achieve huge improvements via an exercise-based treatment programme. Our chartered physiotherapists
use a range of therapeutic techniques (including those listed here
- Reduce the patient's Cobb angle
- Improve posture and muscle strength
- Increase mobility
- Relieve pain
- Enhance the patient's quality of life
Our ScolioGold courses are a popular choice amongst parents whose children suffer from scoliosis. Many young children have been brought to our clinic because their parents were understandably reluctant to wait and watch their child's scoliosis get worse, or to put them in for surgery without first exhausting all possible alternatives. The treatment we offer is safe and demonstrably effective - again, we invite you to view these before and after photos
of some of our youngest scoliosis patients.
If you or your child suffer from scoliosis, please contact us today to arrange an initial consultation at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic and find out more about how we may be able to help.