Adolescent (Idiopathic) Scoliosis

NJ Spine_xray

Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common type of scoliosis, which is a sideways curvature of the spine. Occurring more often in girls than boys, it also tends to run in families. In most cases, idiopathic scoliosis is mild and requires nothing more than close monitoring.

As a child grows, symptoms will begin to present themselves, such as

  • Uneven shoulders
  • One shoulder blade protruding more than the other
  • Prominent ribs on one side
  • Uneven waistline
  • Difference in height of hips

At your visit, your doctor will likely take a detailed medical history and perform a physical examination. Your child will likely be asked to bend forward at the waist, hang their arms loosely in front of them, and reach for the floor. In this position, scoliosis should be relatively easy to see. Your doctor will also order X-rays to calculate the exact curvature of the spine.

Treatment options vary depending on your child’s age and the severity, location, and progression of curvature.
Scoliosis is ranked depending on degree of curvature as follows:

  • Mild: curve of <25 degrees, typically monitored at regular visits to observe progression.
  • Moderate: curve between 25 to 45 degrees, typically treated with bracing to keep the spine in a straighter position as the child grows. A brace can either partially correct the curve or simply prevent it from worsening. Should a curve worsen despite bracing, surgery will likely be required.
  • Severe: curve >45 degrees and usually requiring surgery.

Should surgery be required, your child will likely undergo spinal fusion surgery. During this procedure, the surgeon will use metal rods, hooks, screws, and wires to correct the curvature of the spine and secure it in a straight position. The fusion will then heal and become solid bone.

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