What is scoliosis?  

Scoliosis is when the spine is curved to the side instead of straight. A child with scoliosis may have a spine that is shaped like an “S” or a “C.” The condition can range from mild to severe. 

There are three main types of scoliosis. 

  • Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common type. It happens for no known reason. Idiopathic scoliosis most often develops around the time of puberty, but some children develop the condition earlier. Girls are more likely to have scoliosis than boys.  
  • Congenital scoliosis occurs when the small bones of the spine (vertebrae) do not grow correctly during pregnancy. The baby’s bones may not be fully formed or may be fused together. It is the least common type of scoliosis.   
  • Neuromuscular scoliosis occurs when the child has another condition that affects the spine or the muscles around the spine. These include spina bifida, cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy.    

What are the signs and symptoms of scoliosis? 

The symptoms of scoliosis can vary from one child to another. Some common symptoms in children include: 

  • Shoulders are not level 
  • Shoulder blades are not level, or one sticks out more  
  • Hips are not level 
  • Head is not centered over body 
  • One arm looks longer than the other when standing 

What causes scoliosis? 

The cause of scoliosis varies depending on the type your child has.  

  • Experts do not know what causes idiopathic scoliosis, but it can run in families.
  • Congenital scoliosis occurs when the spine doesn’t develop correctly in early pregnancy. Experts don’t know why this happens to some babies.  
  • Neuromuscular scoliosis can occur when a child has a condition that affects the muscles around the spine, such as spina bifida, cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy.    
  • Other medical conditions can also cause scoliosis, such as spine tumors and connective tissue disorders. 

How is scoliosis treated? 

Your child’s treatment for a scoliosis will depend on which type they have, their age and how severe their symptoms are. Your care team at Arkansas Children’s is experienced in treating scoliosis and will work with you to create the best treatment plan for your child. Treatment options may include:  

  • Observation. If your child has a mild curve, your doctor may opt to have regular visits with your child to make sure it does not get worse.  
  • Bracing. If your child’s scoliosis is moderate or getting worse, the doctor may recommend a brace to help straighten the spine and keep the curve from getting worse.   
  • Surgery. If the scoliosis is severe of if other treatments don’t work, your child may need surgery to help straighten the spine. The most common type is spinal fusion surgery. 


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