Abnormal Spine Curve

As your child grows, their spine also grows with a natural curve. In children and teens with scoliosis, their spines begin to curve abnormally into a “C” or “S” shape.

There are three types of scoliosis found in children and teens:

  • Congenital scoliosis: a rare type of scoliosis detected at birth
  • Idiopathic scoliosis: the most common type of scoliosis, the cause of which is unknown but typically runs in families with a genetic link
  • Neuromuscular scoliosis: the result of spine-supporting muscle and nerve abnormalities and is often seen in conditions like spina bifida, muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

Scoliosis usually doesn’t cause pain, so it may be difficult to diagnosis. Often scoliosis is discovered during an annual well visit, others are found by the child's family and some during school screening. While two-thirds of scoliosis curves do not require treatment, those curves that do progress, will typically do so with growth spurts.

Signs and symptoms of pediatric scoliosis include:

  • Spine that curves sideways
  • Distortion of the chest wall
  • Continuously leaning to one side
  • One shoulder or hip that is higher than the other
  • Back pain

To diagnose your child with scoliosis, our team of experts will review their medical history, perform a physical exam and order X-ray imaging.

The outcome for children with scoliosis depends on the type of scoliosis they have and how the condition progresses as your child grows. Regular doctor visits will track your child’s spine growth and determine treatment options to help straighten the spine and prevent long-term complications.

Why Choose Penn State Health Children’s Hospital for Care

Specialized Scoliosis Treatment Options

Our team of pediatric scoliosis experts at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital will monitor your child’s spine development every four to six months. If your child’s spine curvature worsens, our experts will recommend a custom brace to prevent further curve progression. In severe cases, surgery may be an effective treatment option for your child.

Penn State Pediatric Bone and Joint Institute

At Penn State Health Children’s Hospital, our team of pediatric orthopaedic specialists will work closely with your child to provide comprehensive, multidisciplinary scoliosis care. Our experts have access to cutting-edge facilities and treatment options at the Penn State Pediatric Bone and Joint Institute. Our specialists are also proud members of the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America and the Scoliosis Research Society

Commitment to Research

Penn State Health Children’s Hospital frequently participates in clinical trials for medical conditions like scoliosis. For details on how to take part in a research study at Penn State Health, visit StudyFinder.

Support Groups

Support groups provide children and their families an opportunity to connect with others in similar situations. Learn more about the support groups offered at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital.

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