Idiopathic scoliosis

Scoliosis is a condition that describes a lateral, abnormal curvature of the spine. Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common form of scoliosis; about 65 percent of scoliosis cases are idiopathic, while the remainder is neuromuscular, congenital or degenerative. “Idiopathic” means that the cause is not known, though some researchers believe there is a genetic connection in the development of idiopathic scoliosis.

Risk factors for idiopathic scoliosis

Idiopathic scoliosis can affect anyone at any stage of childhood, but is most common among girls age 10 to 12 and boys age 11 to 16. There is no clear-cut link between the development of this kind of spinal curvature and genetics, but studies have begun to make some connections based on family history. Girls are more susceptible to severe curvature that might require intense treatment — including surgery.

It is important to note that idiopathic scoliosis, while the most common form of scoliosis, is still largely uncommon in children. Most children will not develop scoliosis, but there is an increased risk in developing this condition if you have a family member with the condition and/or you fall into the demographics listed above.

Symptoms of idiopathic scoliosis

The onset of this condition typically is gradual, and its early symptoms do not usually include pain. Eventually, as the curvature progresses, it can begin to produce mild pain and an imbalance of the back muscles. Disfigurement becomes more pronounced as the curvature increases over time. If the scoliosis is located in the thoracic (mid-back) region, the ribs and shoulder blade might begin to stick out like a bulge on one side. In addition, the nearer shoulder will begin to sag. Lumbar (lower back) scoliosis can make the pelvis thrust forward on one side, while one leg appears shorter than the other.

Treating idiopathic scoliosis

Many cases of idiopathic scoliosis can be effectively treated with conservative methods of treatment, such as back braces and physical therapy. These methods aim to strengthen the muscles surrounding the spine, which helps to keep the spine in alignment and compensate for the curvature of the spine. Eventually, the goal is to decrease the abnormal curve of the spine and reduce any pain or symptoms caused by idiopathic scoliosis.

If conservative methods of treatment do not provide lasting relief, your physician may recommend a spine surgery to help treat the condition. At Laser Spine Institute, we offer a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery. Our procedures have earned a 96 patient satisfaction score^ and a 99 percent patient recommendation rate.

We encourage you to contact our Care Team to learn more about the treatment options we offer and whether or not your child qualifies for our procedures. One of our surgeons will determine your child’s candidacy based on age, medical background, and MRI reports.