Scoliosis is a problem that makes the spine curve and twist from side to side, instead of growing straight. It is most often found in girls in their early teens, but boys can have it too. Experts aren't sure what causes most scoliosis, but if anyone in your family has it, your child has a 20 percent chance of developing it.
Scoliosis is most serious in young children who are still growing. A curve in the spine may get worse as your child grows. So screening your child for scoliosis is important so that any curve in the spine can be found early and watched closely.
Scoliosis most often causes no symptoms in your child until the spinal curve becomes large. You might notice these early signs:
- Uneven shoulders
- An uneven waist
- Elevated hips
- Prominent shoulder blade or blades
- Leaning to one side
- Your child’s head does not look centered over the body
- Hems hanging unevenly
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Diagnosis and Treatment
Your child's physician may check for scoliosis during a routine well-child visit. Schools may also have scoliosis screening programs. Diagnostics steps may include a physical exam and x-rays.
Your doctor will suggest the best treatment for your child based on her age, how much more likely she is to grow, and the size and type of her spinal curve. The three types of treatment for scoliosis are:
- Observation - Watching a small curve to see if it gets better or worse as your child grows.
- Bracing - Wearing a brace until your child’s spine is fully grown to keep a curve from getting worse. For many teens with scoliosis, wearing a brace is the best treatment.
- Surgery - Operating to stop a very serious curve from getting worse.
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