May 18, 2022

An Overview of Pediatric Scoliosis

Dr. Venu Vemuri

Scoliosis is a term used to describe a sideways curvature in a person's spine. Typically scoliosis is diagnosed by a physician during childhood.

According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), scoliosis affects 2 to 3 percent of the U.S. population or upwards of 9 million people. Generally, most cases of scoliosis are fairly mild without a lot of symptoms.  

People of any age can be diagnosed with scoliosis, yet it is most common among kids between the age of 10 and 15. While rates of diagnosis in this age group are similar for males and females, over time females are significantly (8 times) more likely than males to require some type of medical treatment for their scoliosis.

Causes of Scoliosis

Oftentimes the cause of scoliosis is not known. So-called idiopathic scoliosis comprises four out of five cases overall.  Congenital scoliosis is a term used to describe malformation of a spinal vertebrae that are present at birth. Typically, this type of scoliosis is identified and diagnosed much earlier than idiopathic cases. Additionally, scoliosis is also sometimes associated with certain medical conditions including muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, cerebral palsy and trauma to the spinal cord.

Importantly, researchers have more recently discovered genetic links to the condition. Kids born from two parents with scoliosis are over 50 times more likely than the general population to need some type of scoliosis treatment.

Signs of Scoliosis

While people with mild cases of scoliosis may not even know, with more serious cases, some common signs are more apparent.

Some signs of scoliosis that an experienced medical provider may note include:

• Shoulders that are different heights

• Protrusion in a shoulder blade

• Rib cages that are not even

• A visible tilt in the body where it appears to slant to one particular side

• A person's head is not centered above their pelvis

• Sometimes people with scoliosis also have problems with their pulmonary functioning.

Treatments for Scoliosis

Treatments for scoliosis range based on the severity of the condition. Very mild cases may not require treatment, whereas more severe cases may require some type of bracing or even a surgical intervention.

When children are diagnosed with mild cases of scoliosis, monitoring the situation is often recommended. This may include regular exams to evaluate the spine and determine whether the curve is correcting itself, or if further treatment may be required.

Surgery is recommended in the most serious cases in an effort to prevent the spine from becoming increasingly curved. People who have stopped growing (young adults and older) may be candidates for a spinal fusion, an operation that works to straighten the spine.

What to Expect from Scoliosis Screening?

A physical exam for scoliosis should be conducted by someone like a spine doctor who is specifically trained in identifying the condition. Dr. Venu Vemuri, a spine doctor in Louisville, Kentucky, has been conducting spinal evaluations for scoliosis and other neck and spine-related medical conditions for over a decade.

While different practitioners will have their own methods, many begin with a very simple approach, using what's called the Adam's forward bend test. This requires a person to stand and bend forward from the waist. A qualified medical professional will assess the back from multiple angles, looking for symmetry and possible curvature.

In addition to a comprehensive physical exam, doctors may also recommend testing that includes x-rays, spinal radiographs, CT scans and/or MRIs. Dr. Venu Vemuri uses the EOSedge, an extremely innovative and precise piece of equipment that provides full-body images of the entire musculoskeletal system using only low dose imaging.

If you are concerned about scoliosis, and are interested in learning more, seek out the help of a qualified medical professional. A back doctor can offer you a thorough assessment of the condition of your spine. For children and adults in the Louisville, Kentucky-region, Dr. Venu Vemuri is here to help. For additional information or to schedule an appointment, contact miiSpine to schedule an appointment with board certified spine doctor Venu Vemuri at 502-242-6370.

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