Scoliosis

Spinal curvature; Infantile scoliosis; Juvenile scoliosis

Scoliosis is an abnormal curving of the spine. Your spine is your backbone. It runs straight down your back. Everyone's spine naturally curves a bit. But people with scoliosis have a spine that curves too much. The spine might look like the letter C or S.

Scoliosis

Abnormal curvature in the spine is known as scoliosis, and generally begins just at the onset of puberty and progresses during the period of rapid growth. Most junior high schools routinely screen for scoliosis because, if caught early, progressive spine curvature can be prevented. Scoliosis affects girls much more frequently than boys.

Skeletal spine

The spine is divided into several sections. The cervical vertebrae make up the neck. The thoracic vertebrae comprise the chest section and have ribs attached. The lumbar vertebrae are the remaining vertebrae below the last thoracic bone and the top of the sacrum. The sacral vertebrae are caged within the bones of the pelvis, and the coccyx represents the terminal vertebrae or vestigial tail.

Scoliosis

Lateral curvature of the spine, scoliosis, is a relatively common condition. The majority of individuals with scoliosis do not require surgery or braces because their condition is self-limiting. Progressive scoliosis, however, requires therapy. The "S" shaped curve is usually more apparent on an X-ray.

Spinal curves

There are four natural curves in the spinal column. The cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral curvature. The curves, along with the intervertebral disks, help to absorb and distribute stresses that occur from everyday activities such as walking or from more intense activities such as running and jumping.

Signs of scoliosis

Scoliosis may be suspected when one shoulder appears to be higher than the other, there is a curvature in the spine, or the pelvis appears to be tilted. The treatment of scoliosis can involve the use of a brace or surgery. Treatment is determined by the cause of the scoliosis, the size and location of the curve, and the stage of bone growth of the patient.

Forward bend test

The forward bend test is a test used most often in schools and doctors offices to screen for scoliosis. During the test, the child bends forward with the feet together and knees straight while dangling the arms. Any imbalances in the rib cage or other deformities along the back could be a sign of scoliosis.

Scoliosis brace

One type of treatment for scoliosis is the use of a brace. The brace works by exerting pressure on the back and ribs to push the spine in a straighter position. The brace usually fits snugly around the torso and can come in many styles. In a child who is still growing, bracing is usually recommended to help slow the progression of the curve. The brace is usually worn full-time until the growth of the bones has stopped.

Spinal fusion

Depending upon the severity and responsiveness to other treatment surgery may be recommended for the scoliosis. Surgical correction involves correcting the curve (although not all the way) and fusing the bones in the curve together. Bone grafts are laid across the exposed surface of each vertebra. These grafts will regenerate, grow into the bone, and fuse the vertebrae together. The bones are held in place with one or two metal rods held down with hooks and screws, which also helps to support the fusion of the vertebrae.

Causes

Symptoms

Exams and Tests

Treatment

Support Groups

Outlook (Prognosis)

Possible Complications

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Prevention