Our care team provides premium care to children with congenital scoliosis.
The least common type of scoliosis, congenital scoliosis is a side-to-side curve in the spine present at birth. Congenital scoliosis can be identified in the womb, but it may not be detected for several months after birth. Shriners Children's knows providing a happy, healthy life for your child is important to you. It's important to us too.
A diagnosis of congenital scoliosis can be stressful for the entire family. Those stressors can include fears about your child's future and insecurity about making the right decisions. Be reassured that if your child is diagnosed with scoliosis, you'll have a Shriners Children's care team to guide you. Your child’s surgeons, physical and occupational therapists, and other care providers understand the concerns of children and parents navigating this journey.
Detecting congenital scoliosis early, when your baby's bones are still forming, makes treatment much more successful.
We’ve seen babies with congenital scoliosis successfully progress through childhood, as they become active preschoolers, elementary school gymnasts, and teens confidently socializing with friends and succeeding in sports. Here you can learn more about congenital scoliosis and the treatment options that are available.
Specific treatments and services may vary by location. Please contact a specific location for more information.
Symptoms of Congenital Scoliosis
Congenital scoliosis is present at birth, so may be discovered during an ultrasound, or within your child's first year by your pediatrician. However, it is possible that it may not become obvious until later. As your child continues to grow, you can look for symptoms to share with their pediatrician and orthopedic specialist. Look for symptoms like:
- Leaning to one side
- One shoulder appearing higher than the other
- One shoulder blade sticking out farther than the other
- One hip appearing higher than the other
- Head appearing not properly centered over the body
- When bending from the waist, the ribs on one side are higher
- Waistline appearing flat on one side
- Clothes not fitting correctly
- Hems that aren’t hanging evenly
Talk to us about anything you’ve noticed or have questions about. Once your child is a Shriners Children's patient, we’ll keep a close eye on them with X-rays and other imaging as needed.
Learn About Congenital Scoliosis Treatments
When you and your child meet our scoliosis treatment team, you’ll discover we're always moving forward. Our physicians stay active in the medical community, continue their training and eagerly incorporate the latest evidence-based treatments for scoliosis into their practices. Often it is our own physicians developing the methods for these treatments, while working in partnership with the FDA and industry partners.
Every scoliosis treatment plan is as unique as your child. If your child's congenital scoliosis continues into adolescence, more advanced treatment options may be explored. Read about all the scoliosis treatment options here. However, if treatment starts early, it will most likely be one or more of the below.
Sometimes the best treatment is time. Your child’s doctor will talk to you about the measurement of the curve in their spine and what that measurement means for his or her treatment. If the curve measures less than 20 degrees, our spine team will examine your child and take low-dose X-rays every four to six months during their growing years to see how the curve is changing (also called curve progression). In most cases, if the curve is not progressing, your child will not need treatment.
Mehta casting is an option for children typically between 6 months and 5 years, and it can be used instead of bracing. Casting is often used to delay or prevent the need for surgery.
A Mehta cast is a plaster cast applied from a child’s collarbone to the bottom of their spine. Once the cast hardens, it holds the spine in position by applying gentle pressure. Children need a new cast every two to three months, with each one straightening the spine a bit more. Some children may transition to a brace as they get older.
Our orthopedic physicians may recommend bracing if the curve is moderate (between 25 and 40 degrees) or if it is progressing. The brace will need to be worn until your child stops growing, or until their doctors recommend a different type of treatment. It's important to note that bracing is not always effective and sometimes the curve increases anyway. In this instance, surgery may be necessary.
Our doctors discussed options and connected us with others in similar circumstances. We had the opportunity to ask questions, express concerns, and they provided me with contact information if I had questions later. We were well cared for.