Scoliosis Symptoms, Prevention, Treatment And Surgery


Adolescence is the age bracket where scoliosis, a lateral curvature of the spine, is most frequently diagnosed. Although scoliosis can develop in people with diseases like cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy, the majority of infantile scoliosis has an enigmatic origin.

The majority of scoliosis instances are moderate, however, some curvature gets worse as children get older. Significant scoliosis may be incapacitating. It may be more difficult for the lungs to work correctly if there is less room in the chest as a result of a particularly severe spine bend.

Mild scoliosis in children is regularly evaluated to see if the curvature is worsening, via X-rays. Oftentimes no therapy is required. Some children will require braces to prevent the curvature from deteriorating. Others could require surgery to align severe curves.


Although the illness occasionally runs in families, doctors believe that genetic factors may be involved in the most prevalent kind of scoliosis. Less frequent forms of scoliosis can be brought on by:

  • Muscular dystrophy and additional particular neuromuscular conditions, including cerebral palsy
  • Birth anomalies that affect the growth of the spine's bones
  • Prior chest wall surgery as a child
  • Spine-related injuries or illnesses
  • Anomalies in the spinal cord

How to check if you have Scoliosis?

If your child exhibits symptoms of scoliosis, consult your doctor. Minor curves might form without you or your child is aware of it because they normally do not hurt and appear gradually. Sometimes, a child's scoliosis is discovered by teachers, friends, or sports teammates.

Risk Factors

The following are risk factors for scoliosis:

Age. Adolescence is often when signs and symptoms first appear.

Sex. Boys and girls both have mild scoliosis at roughly the same rates, but females are significantly more likely to see the curvature deteriorating and needing treatment.

Family background. Although scoliosis can run in families, the majority of children who have the condition do not.


Scoliosis symptoms and warning signs might include:

  • Sloping shoulders
  • Uneven waist 
  • There is one shoulder blade that stands out more than the other.
  • Hip one higher than hip two
  • The rib cage on one side protruded forward.
  • A prominence on one side of the back as she leans forward

In the majority of cases of scoliosis, the spine will also rotate or twist in addition to bending in one direction. As a result, the muscles or ribs on one side of the body protrude further than those on the other.


Depending on how severe the curve is, many treatments are available for scoliosis. 

Children with extremely mild curves do not require any therapy at all, although they may require periodic exams to see whether the curve is getting worse as they age.

Bracing or surgery could be necessary when the spinal curvature is moderate or severe. Considerations to make include:

Maturity. A child's risk of curve progression is minimal if their bones have finished developing. Also, it implies that youngsters whose bones are still growing benefit the most from braces. Hand X-rays can be used to determine the bone's maturity.

Curve difficulty. Bigger curves have a higher chance of getting worse over time.

Sex. Compared to males, girls have a substantially greater chance of advancement.


Your doctor could advise a brace if your child has mild scoliosis and is still-growing bones. While wearing a brace will not reverse or cure scoliosis, it stops the curvature from growing worse.

The most popular type of brace is made of plastic and is formed to fit the user's body. As it fits under the arms and wraps over the rib cage, lower back, and hips, this brace is nearly undetectable when worn under clothing.

Most people wear their braces for 13 to 16 hours each day. A brace gets more efficient the longer it is worn. Braced children often have minimal limitations and can engage in most activities. Children can remove the shoes if they have to.

Braces are taken off after there are no further changes in height. Boys reach adulthood at the age of 16, while females do so on average at 14, however individual differences substantially affect this.


Your doctor could advise scoliosis surgery to help straighten the curvature and stop it from growing worse since severe scoliosis often worsens over time.

Surgical options:

Vertebral fusion. With this treatment, the spine's vertebrae are joined together so that they are incapable of moving freely. Between the vertebrae are fragments of bone or a substance that resembles bone. This portion of the spine is held straight and motionless by metal rods, hooks, screws, or wires while the old and new bone material heals.

Rod that expands. Surgeons can place one or two expandable rods along the spine that can change in length as the child grows if the scoliosis is developing quickly at a young age. Every three to six months, the rods are surgically or remotely extended in the clinic.

Tethering of the vertebral body. This procedure can make use of small incisions. Screws surround the abnormal spinal curvature, and a strong, flexible cable is placed between the screws. When the cable is pulled more tightly, the spine straightens. As the child grows, the spine can even become more straight.

Spinal surgery may have unintended consequences such as bleeding, infection, and nerve damage.

Complications of Scoliosis

Scoliosis often affects people in a minor form, however, it can occasionally result in issues such as:

Breathing difficulties. When scoliosis is severe, the rib cage may press on the lungs, making breathing more challenging.

Back issues. Especially if their aberrant curves are significant and untreated, individuals who experienced scoliosis as children may be more prone to experience persistent back discomfort.

Appearance. Scoliosis can lead to increasingly obvious abnormalities as it progresses, such as lopsided hips and shoulders, protruding ribs, and a tilting of the waist and trunk to one side. Scoliosis sufferers frequently feel self-conscious about their looks.

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Page last reviewed: Apr 17, 2023

Next review due: Apr 17, 2025

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