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Plymouth Paediatric Orthopaedics

Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a twist or curve in the spine. It is a twist in 3 dimensions. There are many causes ranging from congenital to infection, but is most commonly idiopathic (unknown) in origin.

Parents, friends or children themselves may notice that their spine is not symmetrical, that one side of their chest is more prominent or that they are leaning to one side.

If scoliosis is apparent on clinical examination, an X-ray is usually requested. This helps to determine the severity and occasionally underlying cause of the curve. An MRI scan may then be requested to look for any of the rarer associated spinal cord abnormalities that may influence treatment.

Treatment depends on cause, severity and age. In all but the most severe curves, treatment is non-operative. Physiotherapy does not prevent curve progression. Bracing, although commonly used in North America is not as popular a treatment in the UK.

Curve progression is more likely in young patients who have more growth remaining, and with severe curves.

If operative intervention is required or being considered, we ask our spinal colleagues in Exeter to assess you. Operative intervention is usually in the form of a fusion of the spine in a straighter position using rods held onto the spine with screws and hooks.