Scoliosis, or a side curvature of the spine of more than 10 degrees, is a common problem for pediatric patients. It is present in about two to three percent of adolescents. Fortunately, most patients with scoliosis need nothing more than monitoring of the spine during their rapid growth or reassurance for small curves.

For larger curves, some patients may be a candidate for bracing. Modern bracing is not what most families think. Most patients can be treated with a nighttime-only brace. This allows for normal activity during the day and no need to wear the brace at school. Only one out of 5,000 patients develops a scoliosis significant enough to require surgery. Even those who require surgery will return to their previous level of activity.

Scoliosis, Kyphosis and Lordosis all refer to the curvature of the spine:

  • Scoliosis: from right-to-left or left-to-right
  • Kyphosis: from front-to-back (also known as round back or hunched back)
  • Lordosis: loss of curvature at the lower spine resulting in increased prominence of the buttocks (also known as flat back or swayback) 

Causes of a Curved Spine

Scoliosis may be congenital (born with) and may require early surgical intervention. In older children, the cause of scoliosis may never be diagnosed.

Kyphosis may be congenital (born with) from developmental abnormalities; may occur in adolescence from asymmetric spine growth or, albeit rarely, from infection. Kyphosis often accompanies scoliosis.

Lordosis may be congenital, secondary to hip deformity, occur after trauma or be compensatory (developed) to compensate for excessive kyphosis.

When to be Concerned

Scoliosis is never normal, but mild scoliosis may be harmless. Progressive or increasing scoliosis may require treatment.

Some Kyphosis and Lordosis is normal; excessive deformity is the problem.

When Surgery is Needed

Congenital scoliosis may require surgery. Scoliosis greater than 20-to-30 degrees with documented progression may be treated with bracing or surgery. However, curves which are reasonable length (greater than 6 spinal units) and are compensated (without visible side-to-side list) do not require surgery until they reach 40-to-60 degrees.

Kyphosis of greater than 50-to-60 degrees may require bracing or surgery.

Lordosis rarely requires surgery.

Expert Care at Brenner Children's

Our team at Brenner and has the only experts in region that routinely utilizes the expertise of a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon and a pediatric neurosurgeon for deformity surgery. Additionally, our scoliosis surgeons are unique in that they have specialized training in both pediatric and adult spine surgery. Our scoliosis surgery protocol allows for better pain control and faster rehabilitation, and has decreased the amount of time patients need to stay in the hospital after spine surgery

Whether your curvature is mild and you need a watchful eye, moderate and you need professional bracing, or severe and you want the best surgeons in pediatric scoliosis, we are here to provide world-class scoliosis care.