Childhood Scoliosis or Idiopathic Adolescent Scoliosis (AIS) is a sideways curve of the spine, which usually develops in the early years of adolescence from 10-15, when growth is rapid. It is named ‘idiopathic’ because the exact cause of scoliosis is generally considered unknown, although there are some theories about why childhood scoliosis develops.
The Importance of Assessment & Screening
The goal of screening for scoliosis at a young age is to identify any signs of a slight curve early. Identifying a curve early means that it can be treated early, rather than once a curve has already progressed. This means that the scoliosis can be carefully monitored as the child grows, and we can hopefully prevent it from progressing and needing further treatment.
In the early stages, a simple postural exam and screening with an inclinometer can be enough to identify a small curve. Depending on the age of the child, we may monitor the curve annually, or in some cases an X-Ray or referral to a specialist might be needed.
Top ten things to look for when screening your child for scoliosis
- Age – Scoliosis typically onsets between the ages 10-15 during early adolescence
- Sex – childhood scoliosis is much more common in girls than boys, 90% of significant scoliosis curves seen are seen in females
- Family History – around 30% of patients with scoliosis have some one in their close or immediate family, such as a parent, sibling or grandparent, who has also suffered scoliosis
- Unexplained back pain – unexplained back pain can sometimes be a symptom of scoliosis, especially in the early adolescent age group
- Poorly fitting or loose clothes – small changes in a child’s posture due to scoliosis can make clothing fit poorly. Parents may notice that one shirt sleeve or pant leg hangs lower than the other
- Shoulder height difference – do their shoulders look uneven? Is one slightly raised compared to the other
- Shoulder-blade prominence – does one shoulder blade stick out more than the other?
- Hips/Waist height – Does one hip seem raised or uneven compared to the other?
- Noticeable curve in the lower back -is there a noticeable curve in their mid or lower back?
- Rib hump or bump – have them bend over forwards slightly, is there a hump or bump on one side of their rib cage?
Unsure what to do next?
If you answered ‘yes’ to some of these questions or your child is simply in the age range when scoliosis commonly develop, we encourage you to consider a professional assessment. Our Morley Chiropractors are fully trained to assess for childhood scoliosis and monitor any progression. If needed, they can refer for X-Rays or to a medical practitioner for further assessment.
This June/July school holidays our practice will be offering complimentary scoliosis checks for children of all our patients. Here is what a scoliosis screening involves;
- Discussion about any pain or symptoms that your child may be suffering
- Assessment of risk factors for scoliosis (eg. age, family history, gender)
- Spinal curve assessment with an inclinometer (measures possible curves)
- Postural and spinal symmetry assessment
- Basic orthopedic and spinal assessment to rule out any common problems
- Advice regarding any needed follow up or treatment