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Understanding Scoliosis in Children

Scoliosis, or an abnormal curvature of the spine, is one of the most common spinal deformities in children. Scoliosis occurs when the vertebrae in the spine don’t align correctly, causing the development of a C- or S-shaped curve. While the condition is usually attributed to genetic factors, it can also develop during childhood because of the presence of a secondary condition, such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida. In cases of congenital (present at birth) scoliosis, the abnormal development of the spine in the womb results in vertebrae that are either fused or malformed, causing an unnatural curvature.

Some of the more common signs of pediatric scoliosis include:

  • A hip that is higher than the other
  • Uneven shoulders
  • A shoulder blade that is more prominent than the other
  • A noticeable change in the way a person walks

While scoliosis in children can often be asymptomatic, more severe cases can result in a variety of symptoms that can affect an individual’s ability to lead a normal, active lifestyle. If the curvature causes pressure to be placed on a nerve root in the spine, localized pain, radiating pain, numbness, and muscle weakness are additional symptoms that can appear.

Treatment Options

When scoliosis is diagnosed in children, one of the most common and effective treatment methods involves outfitting the child with a back brace. This treatment is designed to allow the child to achieve skeletal maturity while preventing the curvature from progressing to the point where surgery may be required. Other nonsurgical scoliosis treatment options, which are designed to reduce symptoms to a comfortable level, include physical therapy, corticosteroid injections, and pain and anti-inflammatory medications. In severe cases, surgery may be required.

At Tampa General Hospital’s Children's Medical Center, our experienced pediatric orthopedic professionals provide world-class treatment for scoliosis and other conditions that affect children, such as kyphosis. We utilize leading-edge technologies and collaborative care to help our patients find the relief they are looking for so they can lead healthier lives. Use our Physician Finder to find a qualified pediatric orthopedic specialist.