Scoliosis is a deformity of the backbone (spine). It’s when the spine has a side-to-side curve. The curve of the spine measures 10 degrees or more.
A normal spine appears straight when looked at from behind. But a child with scoliosis has a spine with an S or C shape. The child may look like he or she is leaning to one side. The curve can happen on the right or left side of the spin. Or it can happen on both sides in different sections. Both the middle (thoracic) and lower (lumbar) spine may be affected.
In most cases, the cause of scoliosis is not known. A child may be born with it. Or he or she can develop it later in life. It’s most often seen in children between the ages of 10 and 18. It tends to affect more girls than boys.
Possible causes of scoliosis include:
The following are the most common symptoms of scoliosis. Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child. They can include:
These symptoms may seem like other back problems. Or they may be a result of an injury or infection. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Your child’s healthcare provider can diagnose scoliosis with a complete health history of your child and a physical exam. Your child may also need these tests:
Finding scoliosis early is important for treatment. If left untreated, scoliosis can cause problems with heart and lung function. Healthcare providers, and even some school programs, routinely look for signs of scoliosis in children.
Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
The goal of treatment is to stop the curve from getting worse and prevent deformity. Treatment may include:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:
© 2015 The University of Chicago Medical Center. All rights reserved.
The University of Chicago Medicine
5841 S. Maryland Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637 | 773-702-1000
Appointments: Call UCM Connect at 1-888-824-0200