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Scoliosis in Children


  • Scoliosis (sko-le-O-sis) is an abnormal curving of the spine to the side. Normally, the spine is made up of many back bones that are like blocks placed on top of each other. It should be straight when seen from the back and a mirror-image letter 'S' from the side. With scoliosis, the bones are not properly placed on top of the other causing the spine to curve sideways. The abnormal curving in the spine may limit chest movement and cause lung or heart problems. In most cases, the cause of scoliosis is unknown. Your child may have a greater chance of having scoliosis if someone in your family also had it. A birth defect on his spine or other health conditions affecting the muscles or bones may cause scoliosis.
  • Your child may lean to one side with his shoulder or waist lower on one side than the other. His shoulder blade, ribs, or hip may stick out more on one side than the other. Other signs include a sunken chest, rounded shoulders, and swayback. A detailed health history of your child and physical exam may help diagnose scoliosis. Tests to look at the spine, such as x-rays, computerized tomography (CT) scan, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may also be done. Treatment of scoliosis in children aims to correct or control the curving of the spine and prevent further problems. This may include watchful waiting, using a cast or back brace, or surgery. With proper treatment and care, your child's scoliosis may be controlled and further problems prevented. Ask your caregiver for more information about these tests and treatments.



  • Keep a current list of your child's medicines: Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list and the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists. Give vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed: Call your child's primary healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him if your child is allergic to any medicine. Ask before you change or stop giving your child his medicines.
  • Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age: Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.

Ask for more information about where and when to take your child for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services for your child, ask for information.

Your child may need to return for x-rays or other tests.

Your child may need more rest than he realizes while he heals.

Quiet play will keep your child safely busy so he does not become restless and risk injuring himself. Have your child read or draw quietly. Follow instructions for how much rest your child should get while he heals.

Wearing a cast or back brace:

Your child may need to wear a cast or back brace. This may help keep his spine from curving or stop the curving from getting worse. Most braces are light and small and may be worn under clothes. Sometimes, a cast is used first and replaced with a brace after a few months. The brace may be adjusted as your child grows. It is important that your child uses his brace correctly. Ask your child's caregiver for more information about using a cast or back brace.


  • Your child has a fever.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition, medicines, or care.


  • Your child has back pain that is worse or does not go away.
  • Your child has problems passing urine or having bowel movements.
  • Your child has trouble breathing, coughing, wheezing, or has noisy breathing.
  • Your child has trouble moving his legs.
  • Your child's legs feel numb, become weak, or he cannot feel them.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Scoliosis in Children (Aftercare Instructions)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.