The signs of this spine condition develop slowly. We’ve got tips to help you identify the signs and symptoms of scoliosis so that you can seek medical evaluation and treatment while symptoms are in the early stages.
Scoliosis is characterized by an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine, and can be the result of several conditions that develop in childhood. Most commonly, an S- or C-shaped side-to-side curve develops in a child’s spine during adolescence. In functional scoliosis, the spine is normal, but another problem in the body—like one leg shorter than the other—causes an abnormal curve to develop. Neuromuscular scoliosis occurs when the bones of the spine don’t develop correctly; these patients often have other disorders that weaken their muscles, making it difficult for them to hold themselves upright. Benign tumors in the spine may also lead to spinal deformity.
By contrast, degenerative scoliosis is found in older adults, and can be caused by arthritis, weakening of the spine with age, bone spurs, osteoporosis, vertebral compression fractures, and disc degeneration.
Scoliosis can be seen at any age, but symptoms usually appear in children who are 10 years of age or older. This condition is about two times more common in girls than boys. Although scoliosis has a hereditary component, there is no correlation between the severity of the curve from one generation to the next.
Because changes caused by scoliosis occur very gradually, they are easy to miss until the curvature becomes more severe. Some of the signs and symptoms of scoliosis include:
- Clothing doesn’t fit properly. As the condition develops, clothing may no longer fit as well as it once did. You may notice that pant legs are longer on one side than the other.
- Head position may change. Scoliosis may cause a child’s head to appear off center.
- Shoulders and hips may no longer be level. As the curve develops, one shoulder or hip may be higher than the other. When you look at your child’s back, you may also notice a more pronounced curve on one side of the rib cage.
- Breathing may be difficult. When scoliosis is more severe, the curvature can interfere with the function of the lungs and heart. Your child may complain of shortness of breath, chest pain, or back pain.
If you suspect a problem, consult with one of our specialists on the Summit spine team. A physical examination can determine whether your child’s spine is developing properly. When appropriate, we may obtain an X-ray to determine the extent of the curve. With regular monitoring, you’ll be in the best position to consider treatment options, if necessary, to limit the curvature before it becomes more severe.
Summit Orthopedics offers comprehensive spine expertise
Our back specialists diagnose spine problems and design custom treatment plans built on a conservative, nonsurgical approach. Most patients find relief through treatments including guided injections, specialized physical therapy, biofeedback, exercise, activity modification, and medication. When conservative care does not relieve symptoms, our highly skilled surgeons offer proven, evidence-based surgical options. Together with you, we will determine the right course of action.
Start your journey to a healthy spine. Find your spine expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a spine consultation.
Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MN, Plymouth, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.