Scoliosis is fairly rare amongst babies and young children, as in most cases the spinal curve doesn't develop until adolescence. However, that's doesn't mean that babies are never affected.
Broadly speaking, there are two types of scoliosis that affect very young children: infantile scoliosis and congenital scoliosis. Today, we're going to explain the differences and similarities between each condition, and how they can be treated.
What is congenital scoliosis?
Congenital scoliosis is scoliosis that is present from birth. It is caused by irregular development of the spine while the baby is still in the womb. It occurs because one or more vertebrae didn't form properly, or if multiple vertebrae are joined together.
The symptoms of congenital scoliosis are just the same as any other form of scoliosis: uneven hips and/or shoulders; rib cage more prominent on one side than the other; a visible lean to one side. But these symptoms may be harder to identify in a very young child.
Every person experiences scoliosis differently, whether you're born with the spinal condition or develop a curve later in life. Some sufferers may experience pain, respiratory problems, and/or reduced mobility, but none of these symptoms are guaranteed to arise. In some cases of congenital scoliosis, where the condition is linked to a problem with the spinal cord, the patient may also experience reduced coordination, reduced strength, and numbness, but again these symptoms vary from person to person.
Read more about congenital scoliosis >
What is infantile scoliosis?
Infantile scoliosis is a sideways spinal curve that is diagnosed between 0 and 3 years of age. Unlike congenital scoliosis, it isn't present at birth; rather, it develops early in the child's life.
Infantile scoliosis affects more boys than girls, and the exact cause of this condition is unknown. Some have suggested that the spine is slightly bent at the time of birth and simply worsens with growth. The spinal curve typically appears between the shoulder blades or in the thoracic (upper) region of the spine, and the spine tends to curve to the left more often than it curves to the right.
The diagnosis of infantile scoliosis is based on the age of onset, the location of the curve, findings from the physical examination, and x-rays.
The symptoms of infantile scoliosis are very similar to those of congenital scoliosis, and again, their severity varies from one patient to the next.
Treating infantile and congenital scoliosis
In cases of scoliosis where the patient is still very young, doctors usually recommend monitoring/observing their condition to see whether the spinal curve will correct itself over time.
Later on, if the curve has not corrected itself and is in fact worsening, the patient may be recommended to wear a back brace to stop the curve from progressing. In severe cases, they may have to undergo spinal fusion surgery.
Like most forms of the condition, infantile and congenital scoliosis can be effectively treated via exercise-based physiotherapy, which is what we offer here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic. We have treated plenty of young children, and have seen some excellent results!
If you would like to find out more about our non-surgical scoliosis treatment courses and how they can benefit even very young scoliosis patients, please call Scoliosis SOS on 0207 488 4428 or click here to book an initial consultation.