Q: I know scoliosis often appears first in adolescence. What should I look for in my child?
A: Scoliosis is a curvature in the spine. The most common curves are “c” or “s” shaped curves, seen when looking directly at your child. It can also cause the spine to curve more forward or backwards; from a side view, you can see this twist of the torso. Scoliosis is inherited, so if you have a family history, your child is more likely to develop scoliosis. It is found equally among boys and girls, but girls are much more likely to develop larger curves requiring treatment. The magnitude of the resulting curve can vary substantially from generation to generation. Scoliosis is often identified during routine pediatrician visits or school physicals. It is most obvious when looking at your child’s back while he or she is bending forward. You might see or feel a curve in the bumps along the back of the spine (spinous processes). Twisting from scoliosis causes the ribs on one side of the spine to be more prominent, leading to a rib hump on that side. Differences in leg length can cause pant legs to fit differently. Feeling along the top of the hips or shoulders can help to identify whether one side is more elevated. If your child has signs of scoliosis, it is always best to play it safe and make an appointment with your primary care physician.
Jason Eck, DO, Spine Surgeon
Center for Sports Medicine & Orthopaedics
2415 McCallie Avenue, Chattanooga, TN 37404