Scoliosis Center

Scoliosis is a multi-faceted disorder that has both neurological and orthopedic implications resulting from an irregular curve of the spine or backbone. Normally, the spine has curves when looking at it from the side; however, it should appear straight when looking at it from the front. The spine of an individual with typical scoliosis may look more like an "S" or a "C" rather than a straight line.

Illustration of a spine with scoliosis.

Illustration of a spine.

The Scoliosis Center at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital we have an extensive, multi-disciplined team that provides treatment for:

  • Idiopathic scoliosis: a curvature of the spine that usually occurs in children age 10 to maturity, but can occur in younger children or infants
  • Neuromuscular scoliosis: also a curvature of the spine, but with a disorder of the neurological system such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy or spinal cord injuries
  • Congenital scoliosis: a curvature of the spine that results from anomalies or abnormally developed vertebrae, which are the building blocks of the spinal column

Who gets scoliosis?
Scoliosis can first appear in young children or even infants, but most often it shows up during middle to late childhood -- a time when the spine and the rest of the body go through a growth spurt. Girls are more likely than boys to develop idiopathic scoliosis.

What are the signs of scoliosis?
One or both shoulder blades may be elevated, the waist may be lopsided, the hips may seem unusually high or the child may lean to one side. Additionally, a rib prominence (hump) may be seen from the back when the child bends forward.

What causes scoliosis?
In most cases, scoliosis arises for no apparent reason; this is called idiopathic scoliosis. Occasionally, scoliosis is the result of an illness, birth defect (such as cerebral palsy) or a malformation of part of the spine during pregnancy; this is called congenital scoliosis.

What are the suggested treatments for scoliosis?

  • Monitoring
    Some curves of the spine are mild and do not require treatment, but do need to be monitored periodically by examination and X-rays to ensure they don't worsen.
  • Non-operative (brace or wheelchairs)
    We measure the spinal curves in degrees. If a curve is fairly large (between 20 degrees and 40 degrees) and a child is still growing, we may recommend a brace to keep the curve from getting any worse. For children with neuromuscular scoliosis, we may suggest a custom wheelchair to help improve sitting posture.
  • Operative (surgery)
    Scoliosis surgery is one of the most extensive and complex orthopedic surgical procedures performed on children. However, recent advancements have improved the success and safety of these surgical procedures, and new surgical technology has eliminated the need for braces after surgery. Typically, the operation takes approximately four to six hours, and hospitalization can last several (usually around six) days. Activities are restricted for several months.

Call us at (813) 554-8983 to make an appointment or discuss concerns you may have regarding your child's spine. We have a full team of specialists ready to address your concerns. Whether your child is an inpatient or outpatient, we focus on their needs to provide them with a solid, individualized treatment plan.

Return to Neurosciences