Breaking Down Scoliosis: The Many Types
Scoliosis is defined at the sideways curvature of the spine. While it is normal for the spine to curve just a bit, a more severe curve that looks like a “C” or an “S” is abnormal. Scoliosis occurs most often during the growth spurt just before puberty and can have many different causes, such as birth defects, neuromuscular conditions, and injuries or infections of the spine. However, many times the cause of scoliosis is unknown. Most of the time scoliosis is mild, but some children do develop more severe spine deformities as they grow.
Scoliosis can sometimes be identified by its symptoms, including: uneven shoulders, an uneven waist, one hip that is higher than the other or one shoulder blade that is more prominent than the other. Additional signs of scoliosis could be back pain and exhaustion after standing for a long period of time.
The most common type of scoliosis is called idiopathic scoliosis, which is grouped by age:
- Infantile scoliosis: in children age 3 and younger.
- Juvenile scoliosis: in children age 4 through 10.
- Adolescent scoliosis: in children age 11 through 18.
In addition to idiopathic scoliosis, other types of scoliosis include congenital scoliosis and neuromuscular scoliosis. Congenital scoliosis is present at birth, when a baby’s ribs or spine bones do not form properly. Neuromuscular scoliosis, on the other hand, is caused by a nervous system problem that affects the muscles. Neuromuscular scoliosis can be caused by cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida and polio.
The prognosis for each case of scoliosis depends on the type, cause and the severity of the spinal curve. Some people with scoliosis can treat it with a spinal brace while others might have surgery.
The majority of people with scoliosis have a mild form of the disorder, but some people with more severe scoliosis can develop complications such as lung and heart damage, chronic back pain into adulthood and low self-esteem due to changes in appearance.
Regular scoliosis screenings are now done in most middle schools across the country, hoping to catch the disorder early. An early screening and detection can make a huge difference in the outlook for a child with scoliosis.
If you think your child might have scoliosis, please contact your doctor.