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Scoliosis Scoliosis
Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine is curve to the side. There are over 7 million people with scoliosis in the... Scoliosis

by Kimberly Allen RN

Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine is curve to the side.  There are over 7 million people with scoliosis in the US.  It affects girls twice as often as boys, though it can affect anyone at anytime it is usually diagnosed in people over 10 years of age.

Scoliosis is a curving of the spine. It is more common in girls than boys.

There are 3 main types of scoliosis.  The most common being idiopathic which means there is no known cause.  This type accounts for approximately 65% of the diagnosed cases of scoliosis.  Then there is congenital scoliosis which results from a malformation of the spine in utero, usually occurring between 3-6 weeks.  Congenital scoliosis occurs in approximately 15% of all scoliosis cases.  The third type is called neuromuscular scoliosis because it develops secondary to a neuromuscular disease like cerebral palsy and marfan syndrome.  This type account for 10% of the scoliosis cases diagnosed.
Though Drs don’t know what causes most cases of scoliosis they do know that it can run in families.  Scoliosis usually develops during the growth spurt that occurs just before puberty.  Approximately half of the states in the US require public schools to test students for scoliosis.  The  test is very simple and easy on the child.  The Dr or nurse will have the child bend over keeping their knees straight and touch their toes and then they’ll look at the child’s back to see if the spine is curved.

Scoliosis may not always be noticeable especially in very mild cases.  Sometimes it isn’t until your child is trying on new clothes that you notice something is just as little off.  Some children with scoliosis will have one shoulder blade that’s higher than the other , or may be an uneven waist and a tendency to lean to one side instead of standing straight.  Sometimes you may notice that your child has one pant leg that is shorter that the other.  The most common symptom of scoliosis include uneven shoulders with one shoulder blade appearing more prominent.  Scoliosis develops gradually so it might not be noticed especially as there are no other symptoms like pain or a fever.  However, if the curve of scoliosis worsens there can be other symptoms like pain as well as other problems.  For most people, the curve of scoliosis is fairly mild and causes minimal difficulties, however, there are those that suffer from more severe scoliosis and have symptoms as well as problems caused by the spinal curve of scoliosis.  When the scoliosis curve is severe there is the potential for the spine to twist and turn along with being curved.  This can cause the ribs to shift with one side sticking out while the other puts pressure on the lungs and heart.  This pressure can not only make it more difficult to breathe but also make it more difficult for your heart to pump.  Adults that were diagnosed with scoliosis when they were children tend to have chronic back difficulties especially pain.
Children with mild scoliosis usually don’t need to be treated with a brace or surgery.  However, it is recommended that they be monitored closely for any signs of progression.  When considering treatment your Dr will weigh several factors including the child’s sex as girls have a greater tendency to worsen than boys.  The Dr will then look at the curve, the severity of the curve, pattern and location of the curve all help determine not only the need for treatment but the type of treatment.  Then the Dr will determine if your child’s bones are still growing.  These braces can not cure or reverse scoliosis but they can prevent progression of the curve.  Surgery is usually reserved for adults with severe curvature that is causing problems.
Scoliosis can be difficult for children especially teens to cope with because their body’s are already going through numerous changes.  Encourage your child/teen to become knowledgeable  about scoliosis and to share the information with his/her friends and to include them in his/her support system.

Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at