Types of Scoliosis


Scoliosis is a deformity that involves the curvature of the spine. It affects all three planes of the body: coronal (bisecting the front and back of the body), saggital (bisecting right and left), and axial (bisecting top and bottom.)

Scoliosis is one of the spine disorders that can occur in both children and adults. In this blog, you’ll learn the basics about diagnosis and treatment of three types of scoliosis: pediatric, idiopathic, and adult scoliosis.

Pediatric scoliosis

Pediatric scoliosis occurs in children. When a baby is born with scoliosis, that’s considered congenital scoliosis, which is an abnormal development of the spine that can result in a:

  • Missing portion of the spine
  • Partial formation of the spine
  • Lack of separation of the vertebrae

Some patients with congenital scoliosis are at risk of the condition progressing, or worsening as time goes on. If the curve is greater than 30 degrees, there is a 50 percent chance of progression. If the curve is between 5 and 30 degrees, there is a 25 percent chance of progression. Twenty-five percent of cases are nonprogressive.

Idiopathic scoliosis

Idiopathic scoliosis can affect infants, juveniles and adolescents. Here we’re defining infants as younger than 3 years of age, juveniles as 3 to 10 years of age and adolescents as 10 to about 18 years of age.

Among infants who have idiopathic scoliosis, more boys than girls are affected, and 80 percent of cases resolve without treatment. Juvenile cases are equally distributed between boys and girls. Adolescent patients with idiopathic scoliosis are 80 percent girls.

An orthopedic specialist who understands spinal deformities will likely treat an adolescent idiopathic scoliosis patient with one of the following approaches:

The treatment needed will depend on the degree of curve, flexibility of curve and rate of progression.

Adult scoliosis

Some idiopathic cases become cases of adult scoliosis when a patient reaches adulthood and the spine fully develops. Cases where the scoliosis is considered degenerative usually occur in patients who are age 40 and above.

Degenerative scoliosis generally occurs over a long period of time and occurs in tandem with other medical conditions. In cases where conservative treatment — or bracing — fails, spinal surgery may be warranted.

Neuromuscular scoliosis — which can occur in any age group — results from from neurologic or muscular diseases, such as:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Polio

If you think you or your child may be suffering from scoliosis or needs ongoing scoliosis treatment, talk an orthopedic specialist. There are many different types of treatment for scoliosis and other spinal deformities depending on your particular condition.

If you’re going to have spinal surgery, there are steps you can take to be prepared for a successful procedure and recovery.