Signs of Scoliosis in children

How to Spot the Signs of Scoliosis in children

When it comes to treating scoliosis, it is highly beneficial to spot the manifestation of symptoms and progression as early as possible, in order to have the best chance of preventing the spinal curvature from becoming more severe. In order to do this, the symptoms must be recognised in the individual sufferer, in order for them to be examined and diagnosed by a medical professional.

The difficulty with this arises, due to the fact that symptoms often vary from case to case, and can be difficult to spot until the curvature is at a later stage of progression. For this reason, it is important to familiarise oneself with the variety of symptoms which may point towards scoliosis, in order to ensure that appropriate treatment is provided as early as possible.
Here’s a closer look at some of the symptoms to look out for, in sufferers of all ages:

Signs of Scoliosis in Babies

In children under the age of five, the condition is referred to as early onset or infantile scoliosis, and can be classified as one of several possible forms of the disease, including: congenital, syndromic and neuromuscula. In those aged 3 or under, this can be difficult to detect, and can have a number of outcomes depending on each case. For some, the curve may improve, while other cases will see the curve progress as the child continues to grow. To help spot possible symptoms of scoliosis as soon as possible, here are a few signs to keep in mind:
  • Difference in shoulder height.
  • Unusual head position (not centred with the rest of the body).
  • Hip and shoulder blade height/position.
  • The way arms hang beside the body when standing.
  • The sides of the back having an uneven appearance when bending forward.

Signs of Scoliosis in Adolescents 

This is the age group that is most commonly impacted by idiopathic scoliosis, developing during puberty as the body begins to grow more rapidly. The majority of curves tend to slow in progression as the individual matures, however, the most severe curves will continue to progress into adulthood. Although some scoliosis sufferers experience pain as a result of their condition, this is not true of every case, which means that other symptoms should also be taken into consideration alongside this. Scoliosis symptoms in adolescents include:
  • Rib hump/prominence: a lateral shift of the chest relative to the pelvis.
  • Shoulder height asymmetry where one shoulder appears higher than the other.
  • Torso leaning to the right or left, which can also result in one hip appearing higher, or one leg appearing longer than the other.
  • Pain in the lower back (particularly in active individuals).
  • Uneven skin folds where one side indents more than the other.

Signs of Scoliosis in Adults 

While scoliosis is usually spotted at an earlier age, there are cases of scoliosis which develop or manifest themselves in older patients.  Although early onset cases and syndrome-connected forms of scoliosis are known to impact adults, the two main forms of adult scoliosis are adult idiopathic scoliosis and adult degenerative scoliosis. Both these forms of the disease are progressive over time, with those of 50 degrees progressing more rapidly than those beneath this threshold. In the case of degenerative scoliosis, this is caused by a degeneration of the discs, arthritis of the facet joints, and the collapse/wedging of disc spaces, typically seen in the lumbar area of the spine. Symptoms of adult scoliosis include:
  • Lower back pain and stiffness.
  • Leaning forwards due to trapped nerves/loss of natural curve.
  • Numbness and shooting pains in the legs.
  • Fatigue due to stress on lower back and leg muscles, which are placed under strain as a result of the curvature.

Shortness of breath due to reduced lung capacity (in severe cases).

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