Scoliosis In Children And Adolescents

July 2nd, 2019 Becki Andrus
Childhood Orthopedic Problems

Child Scoliosis – Types, Treatment & Recovery

When an individual is dealing with scoliosis, their backbone is curved to the side. Regardless of how extensive the angle of the arc might be, this represents a departure from the normal spine that would reside through the middle of the back, The curvature can be C-shaped or S-shaped, and this disorder can impact people of all ages.

It has been estimated that the issue is experienced by somewhere between 6-9 million people in the U.S. while approximately 600,000 visits are made to physicians’ offices on an annual basis regarding this problem. That includes children and teenagers, which results in an estimated 30,000 children being fitted for braces, and approximately 40,000 people experiencing spinal fusion surgery.

Degenerative scoliosis can develop as we experience the aging process. However, the focus of this article remains firmly on the three types of scoliosis that emerge with children and adolescents.

Types Of Scoliosis For Children And Adolescents

There are three different types of scoliosis that can occur with children and adolescents, with the vast majority of cases being designated as idiopathic. This condition usually occurs in the latter portion of childhood – between the ages of 10-12 – or during the initial stage of becoming a teenager.

Other cases of scoliosis are referred to as congenital, which refers to scoliosis that was caused by a birth defect. Neuromuscular is the third form of scoliosis in children and teenagers, and it takes place due to medical issues that negatively impact their ability to control the muscles near the spine.

Scoliosis Causes

The term idiopathic is used when the cause of the condition is uncertain, and this form of scoliosis encompasses around 80% of the cases for in children and teenagers.  But even though pinpointing a specific cause for idiopathic scoliosis has not occurred, it has been determined that normal activities for children such as transporting backpacks are not the reason why this condition can develop. 

Congenital scoliosis can affect babies that are born with spinal bones that are not formed completely or have been merged together. 

Cases of neuromuscular scoliosis take place with children who are dealing with medical conditions that negatively impact their ability to control the muscles near the spine.

This involves both the nerves and muscles and can create challenges including imbalance, and loss of strength in the muscles that are near the spine. The conditions that can cause this to transpire include muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, and spina bifida.

Scoliosis Symptoms

The symptoms of scoliosis often emerge just before the onset of puberty which is when growth spurts normally begin. While this condition can exist with multiple members of the same family, the majority of children who are dealing with scoliosis do not have a family history of this issue.     

The challenges of this condition usually do not involve pain. In fact, a large percentage of curved spines are not even noticed by parents. Instead, they are often indicated during examinations with pediatricians or screenings in schools.

When the symptoms are visible for parents, they can include uneven or slanted shoulders, ribs that are more noticeable on one side of the body versus the other, one hip being conspicuously higher than the other, and a waistline that is unbalanced.

If any of these symptoms are identified by a pediatrician, it is possible that he or she will recommend that your son or daughter visit an orthopedic professional, or potentially a surgeon in order to determine the specifics of the situation more thoroughly.

Scoliosis Treatments

While some cases of scoliosis will not involve any form of treatment, some children could require a protective brace. On other occasions, surgery might be recommended with the goal of achieving a normal posture. 

If it is determined that your son or daughter needs to be examined for scoliosis, your physician will often order x-rays in order to deliver a proper diagnosis. Your doctor can also utilize CT scans and MRIs in order to pinpoint the existence and form of scoliosis.

In situations that involve younger children and the potential of congenital scoliosis, additional examinations can include a review of the cardiovascular, neurological, and genitourinary (organs related to urinary system) systems in order to achieve a correct diagnosis.

If a diagnosis of scoliosis is confirmed, the situation may not be serious enough to require treatment. In those cases, your doctor might request additional examinations every four to six months in order to observe the situation.

It is possible that your doctor will recommend a brace if your son or daughter’s curve ranges between 25 and 40 degrees. This would protect your child’s spine from any further progression in the curve.

There are also situations in which surgery will be an effective resource toward prohibiting any further progression in the curve of the spine. This is most likely to take place if the curve is larger than 40 degrees.

The most common surgery for adolescent idiopathic sclerosis is posterior spinal fusion. This involves having your son or daughter lie on his or her stomach. This process will require several hours. However, most teenagers can successfully return to school or their jobs with a time frame that ranges from two to four weeks after the surgery has concluded.

At Orthopedic Associates, We Are Here To Help

If you are concerned that you or your child might be contending with scoliosis, or if you have any questions about discomfort, illness, or an injury that is limiting your ability to remain involved in physical activity, the professionals at Orthopedic Associates want to provide our expertise.

With eight board-certified physicians and two board-eligible physicians in orthopedic specialties, our doctors have been practicing medicine for a combined total of 183 years of experience.  This helps Orthopedic Associates offer a full spectrum of musculoskeletal care, along with in-house physical therapy, our state-of-the-art technology, and an on-site surgical center.

We also encourage you to consult one of our neck and spine doctors if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Hard, knotted muscles in your neck or shoulders
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Pain
  • Tightness in the general neck-and-shoulder area
  • Stiffness as you go to look over your left or right shoulders
  • Headaches originating from the base of your skull and continuing to the front of your forehead

Our specialists also provide on-call availability, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and can treat these additional neck conditions:

  • Anatomy of the Spine
  • Cervical Radiculopathy
  • Coccydynia
  • Compression Fracture of the Spine
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Facet Joint Syndrome
  • Herniated Disc(s) (Cervical)
  • Kyphosis
  • Lumbar Radiculopathy (Sciatica)
  • Metastatic Cancer of the Spine
  • Muscle Strain of the Upper Back (Trapezius Strain)
  • Myelopathy
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Post-Laminectomy Syndrome
  • Scoliosis
  • Spinal Epidural Abscess
  • Spinal Infection
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Spondylosis
  • Where Lower Back Pain Begins
  • Where Neck Pain Begins

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