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.