What is pediatric and adolescent scoliosis?

Pediatric and adolescent scoliosis is a condition in which a child’s spine abnormally curves sideways or rotates. Scoliosis can range from mild to severe. People with mild scoliosis may only need to be seen by their doctor on a regular basis. Those with more severe cases may need braces or surgery.

Who gets pediatric and adolescent scoliosis?

About 2% of the population is affected by scoliosis. Scoliosis can affect people of any age, but it is most common in adolescents.

What causes pediatric and adolescent scoliosis?

There are three different types of pediatric and adolescent scoliosis:

  • Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common type. "Idiopathic" means that the cause is unknown, but because it runs in families, it has a genetic (hereditary) basis.
  • Congenital scoliosis is a fairly rare spine abnormality detected at birth.
  • Neuromuscular scoliosis is a curvature of the spine caused by abnormalities in the muscles and nerves that support the spine. Examples include patients with cerebral palsy, spina bifida and muscular dystrophy.

What are the symptoms of pediatric and adolescent scoliosis?

Scoliosis usually causes no pain, so symptoms can often go unnoticed. Parents or caregivers should watch for the following signs in their child:

  • Uneven shoulders.
  • Constant leaning to one side.
  • Uneven leg length.
  • Prominent shoulder blade(s).
  • An uneven waist.
  • Elevated hips.

If you notice any of these signs in your child, contact your doctor to have your child screened.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy