Scoliosis in Children

Most of the time, scoliosis doesn’t appear until the patient is 10-15 years old. Scoliosis in children under 10 is rare, but it does happen on occasion.

Broadly speaking, childhood cases of scoliosis can be sorted into three different categories:
  • Congenital scoliosis, where the spine is curved from birth
  • Infantile scoliosis, where the curvature develops between 0 and 3 years of age
  • Juvenile scoliosis, where the curvature develops between 4 and 10 years of age

What causes scoliosis in children?

Scoliosis in children is often idiopathic, which basically means that the cause is unknown.

However, in some cases, the spinal curve can be traced back to an underlying condition. Use the buttons below to see possible causes.
Congenital (from birth)
  • Congenital (from birth)
  • Infantile (0-3yrs)
  • Juvenile (4-10yrs
Congenital

Causes of Congenital Scoliosis

Congenital scoliosis occurs when a child’s vertebrae (the bones that make up the spine) develop incorrectly in the womb. It may happen because:
  • One or more vertebrae didn’t form properly
  • One or more vertebrae are completely absent
  • Two or more vertebrae are fused together
Read more about congenital scoliosis >
Infantile

Causes of Infantile Scoliosis

Infantile scoliosis develops very early in a child’s life, although unlike congenital scoliosis it is not present at birth. When infantile scoliosis is not idiopathic, it may be attributed to underlying conditions like:
Read more about infantile scoliosis >
Juvenile

Causes of Juvenile Scoliosis

When juvenile scoliosis is not idiopathic, it may be caused by conditions such as:
Read more about juvenile scoliosis >

What are the symptoms of childhood scoliosis?

A child with scoliosis displays most of the same symptoms as an adult with scoliosis. Common signs include:
Symptoms
Uneven shoulders
Leaning to one side
Visibly curved spine
Uneven hips
Back pain
Ribs sticking out on one side
Different leg lengths

Diagnosing scoliosis in children

If your child is exhibiting any of the symptoms shown above, you can check them using the Adams Forward Bending Test:
  • Take off your child’s top and stand behind them so you can see their back.
  • Look at your child’s shoulders, ribs, legs, neck, hips and waist. If any of these are noticeably asymmetrical (skewed to one side), this may be a sign of scoliosis.
  • Ask your child to bend forward at the waist as if they were trying to touch their toes.
  • Look at your child’s back – is one side of the rib cage significantly more prominent than the other?
Remember that no one’s body is perfectly symmetrical. You should only be looking for significant differences in shoulder height, leg length, etc.
Be sure to visit your GP if you believe your child may be suffering from scoliosis.

Treating scoliosis in children

Treatment methods vary depending on the patient’s age and the severity of their spinal curve.

Monitoring

Recommended for: Children showing early symptoms of scoliosis

In many cases of childhood scoliosis, doctors will recommend simply monitoring the condition to see whether it gets better, gets worse, or stays the same as the child grows. Further treatment may be prescribed if the spinal curve doesn’t improve over time.

Cast

Recommended for: Babies and toddlers whose spines have not developed properly

Casts are non-removable, and in general, they are only used when the patient is very young. A scoliosis cast is worn for months at a time to straighten the spine as it develops. Casts are changed every few months.

Brace

Recommended for: Children with scoliosis who are still growing

Bracing is a fairly common treatment for children with scoliosis, as well as for pre-teen/adolescent patients whose bodies are still growing. Braces come in a number of different forms, and while they can’t correct an existing curve, they do help to prevent scoliosis from progressing with growth.

Physiotherapy

Recommended for: Scoliosis patients aged 4 and up

Exercise-based physical therapy can be highly beneficial for scoliosis patients at virtually any age. This is a non-invasive option that has proven capable of reducing the angle of the patient’s spinal curve while also addressing other symptoms such as back pain and muscular imbalance.

Surgery

Recommended for: Extremely severe cases of childhood scoliosis

For a child with an especially severe spinal curve, spinal fusion surgery may be the only viable option. However, the spinal fusion procedure is very rarely performed on children, not least because it’s usually better to wait until the patient is fully grown before operating.

Before & After Treatment

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we treat scoliosis sufferers of all ages using the ScolioGold method, our own physical therapy programme that combines a wide variety of proven non-surgical techniques.

Each treatment course is tailored to the patient’s specific condition, and ScolioGold therapy helps to reduce pain and improve strength and muscle balance while also reducing the Cobb angle. Take a look at some of the results we’ve seen in our youngest patients:

Case Study: Sara, 9 Years Old

Sara was diagnosed with scoliosis at a young age after her older brother had undergone spinal fusion surgery for his own spinal curve.

Watch this video to hear how we reduced Sarah’s scoliosis angle from 17° to just 4°:
Contact Scoliosis SOS now to book a consultation for yourself or your child
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I'm grateful to have found Scoliosis SOS in my search for a treatment option for my back. I'm inspired by your work and dedication to this clinic and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for creating an opportunity for me and everyone else to help their backs non-surgically...

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Zainab, 16 from Tanzania
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