Scoliosis is a condition where the spine curves and twists to the side. The spinal curve typically develops over time. With scoliosis, a child may have a hump on their back, uneven shoulders, or one side of their chest may appear larger. These physical changes are related to the twisting of the ribs and spine. Scoliosis will get worse without treatment so it is important to see a doctor.

Causes and Risk Factors

  • Unknown causes, sometimes genetic
  • Paralysis or neuromuscular issues

Symptoms and Types

Scoliosis is not associated with back pain. The only symptoms are visual and cosmetic cues. There are three types of scoliosis:

  • Idiopathic scoliosis: Doctors do not know what causes idiopathic scoliosis. It is not present at birth, but it tends to run in families. Idiopathic scoliosis occurs more in girls than in boys and usually gets worse during the growing years of ages 11 to 15. It cannot be prevented, but the curve can be controlled with bracing and/or surgery.
  • Congenital scoliosis: This type of scoliosis is present at birth. It usually worsens as children grow. Surgery may be recommended to prevent the curve from getting bigger and from causing other health problems.
  • Neuromuscular scoliosis: Scoliosis can develop in children or young adults with other diagnoses such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida and other conditions involving the nerves and muscles. Some of these diseases weaken the muscles around the spine and can affect the spinal cord, causing the spine to curve. Surgery is usually the best treatment but can depends on multiple factors. 

Diagnosis and Tests

To accurately diagnose scoliosis, X-rays are taken of the spine. The curve can affect the lower (lumbar) and/or the upper (thoracic) area of the spine. If there is a curve seen on the x-ray, the doctor will measure the curve in degrees. An MRI or CT scan of the spine may be recommended.

Treatment and Care

The degree of the curve, the type of curve, and age of the person determines the type of treatment that will be recommended. Based on these findings your doctor will discuss the treatment options that are best for your child. Treatment may include observation, bracing, surgery or a combination of all three.

Surgical Options in Your Community

Spine surgery for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is now available at our Woodlands campus, with plans for further expansion to West Campus.

Living and Managing

Children can attend school and participate in all activities without limitation.