Skip to Content

Scoliosis in Children



is an abnormal curving of the spine. Scoliosis can develop at any age in children but often starts during adolescence.


Common signs and symptoms include the following:

  • Leaning to one side when standing, sitting, or walking
  • One shoulder blade, set of ribs, or hip that sticks out more on one side than the other
  • Shoulder or waist that is higher on one side than the other
  • Sunken chest, rounded shoulders, and swayback
  • Trouble breathing or back pain if scoliosis is severe

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • Your child has trouble moving his or her legs.
  • Your child's legs are numb, weak, or he or she cannot feel them.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your child has shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, or noisy breathing.
  • Your child has back pain that is worse or does not go away after he or she takes pain medicine.
  • Your child has problems urinating or having bowel movements.

Call your child's doctor or orthopedic specialist if:

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


depends on when the condition started and how severe it is. The goal of treatment is to correct or control the curving of the spine and prevent more problems. If the curve is mild or your child is almost fully grown, his or her healthcare provider may recommend regular visits to monitor the scoliosis. Your child may need any of the following:

  • A cast or brace may help keep your child's spine from curving or stop the curving from getting worse. Most braces are small and light 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.
  • Surgery may be needed if the curve is severe and a brace has not helped. Healthcare providers may place rods, screws, or wires to help straighten the spine.

Follow up with your child's doctor or orthopedic specialist as directed:

Your child may need to return for more tests. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Ā© Copyright IBM Corporation 2021 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotesĀ® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

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 (Ambulatory Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Further information

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