Scoliosis In Children – 5 Causes & 5 Symptoms You Should Be Aware Of


As parents, we devote our careers to helping our little ones reach their goals and be successful individuals. But if you realize that they are affected with any physical deformation, it is painful.

Scoliosis is one such physical condition and a musculoskeletal disorder that can affect even children. It is a deformity in the curvature of the spine that should not be confused with poor posture.  It can be overwhelming for any parent. However, it is a mild condition that requires no treatment.

What Is Scoliosis?

Usually, a normal spine looks straight when observed from back. But, in scoliosis, the spine looks S or C shaped, giving an appearance of leaning towards a side.

  • If the curve is present in the lower part of the spine, it’s called a lumbar curve. If it is present in the upper part of the spine, it’s called a thoracic curve.
  • In most cases, scoliosis develops when children are between the age of 9 and 14, during the growth spurt brought by the onset of puberty.
  • Usually, scoliosis is gradual and painless, hence difficult to diagnose at first.


Signs And Symptoms Of Scoliosis In Children:

The most common signs and symptoms a child experiences are as follows:

  • When you observe the back of children with scoliosis, it looks normal. But when that person bends, the curve in the spine is visible in the form of a lump.
  • One shoulder blade will be higher than the other, or the ribs will be pushed out.
  • Uneven waist.
  • One hip is higher than the other.
  • Severe scoliosis can cause back pain and difficulty in breathing. 

What Causes Scoliosis In Children?

Surprisingly, the exact cause is yet to be determined, but it does seem to involve hereditary factors. Studies show that the most affected people have had the disorder run in the family.

Some Of The Less Common Causes Are:

  • Injuries or injections given to the spine.
  • Neuromuscular conditions like cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy.
  • Birth defects that affect the development of spine and bones also can be a reason.
  • Inflammatory conditions such as appendicitis.
  • Benign tumors on the spinal column caused due to a birth defect. 


How To Check For Scoliosis In Children ?

There are a few procedures involved in diagnose if the child has scoliosis.

  • The medical history of the patient is noted down. Birth defects, trauma and other disorders, if any are determined.
  • A physical examination of the patient is conducted to examine the back, chest, legs, feet and pelvis.
  • The doctor checks the shoulder level, whether the head is centered and if the opposite sides of the body are even or levelled.
  • The muscles of the back are checked as well, especially while the patient bends forward.
  • Doctors recommend an X-ray examination in which the vertebrate is measured from the beginning to the end of the curve. The angle of the curve is also measured.


How To Treat Scoliosis In Children?

Mild spinal curves usually do not need any treatment and doctors only observe such cases over a period. Those with severe scoliosis need to consult an orthopedic spinal specialist.

The Most Common Treatments For Scoliosis Are:

Observation: A patient with mild curves is re-examined every few months when the child is still growing.

Bracing: For a patient with a moderate curve and who is still growing; he may be advised to wear a back brace to stop the curve from getting worse.

Surgery: For severe cases, surgery may be an option in a patient where the curve is getting worse. The surgical procedure involves correction, stabilization and fusion of the curve.

Different implants are used to straighten the spine and keep is aligned. These implants remain inside your body on the spine even after the surgery.

You should discuss your options with at least two experienced surgeons.


Is It Safe For Your Child To Exercise With Scoliosis?

Exercise is usually encouraged for someone who is suffering from scoliosis; it will help in minimizing potential decrease in functional ability in the future. Especially, girls since they have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis than boys. By doing more weight bearing exercises, you can increase your bone density.

How Can I Support My Child?

For a young adult, it is difficult to cope with scoliosis. Suffering from scoliosis can result in anger, insecurity and fear. You can help by encouraging your child to talk about the way he feels. You can also join a support group for parents and kids suffering from scoliosis. Support group members share their real life experiences, give advice and connect you to parents and kids facing the same challenges as you.

If you have a similar story and would like to share, do write in the comment section. It might inspire some other mother to deal with the emotional pain associated with scoliosis.

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