The human body, designed for an upright posture and mobility, relies on the very specific arrangement of the spinal column. However, for those suffering from the condition known as scoliosis, a bending of the spine can severely impede mobility as well as the ability to stand up straight. And when this condition occurs in children under the age of ten, physicians define it as early onset scoliosis, of which there are different types.
In the case of infantile idiopathic scoliosis (found in children under the age of three), the spine curves to the left and the condition occurs alongside other problems such as developmental disabilities and heart abnormalities. With juvenile idiopathic scoliosis (occurring in children four to ten years old and most commonly found in males) the spine also bends leftward in younger children and to the right in older children.
With congenital scoliosis, the curvature of the spine occurs in the pre-natal stage and is the result of improper fetal development—either the bones of the spine don’t form completely and vertebrae are abnormally shaped or the spinal bones separate from one another during development.
Rather than occur as the result of a pre-natal deformity, neuromuscular scoliosis arises due to some sort of neuromuscular disorder, such as myopathy, cerebral palsy, spina bifida or spinal muscular atrophy. Like other types of scoliosis it can have an effect on any part of the spine, and intense and timely treatments are necessary to allay the underlying cause and manage the condition.
Syndromic scoliosis is found in conjuction with other clinical syndromes such as Marfan’s, neurofibromatosis or Ehler’s Danlos and is treated alongside these other disorders.
When a deformity in the chest wall is present—often it is severely undersized and therefore has stunted the growth of the lungs and caused difficulty breathing and respiratory distress—a diagnosis of thoracic insufficiency syndrome is worsened when scoliosis is also present.