A Parent’s Guide to Spinal Deformities in Children

Most Common Spinal Conditions Afflicting Children

Every parent hopes for his or her child to experience healthy development after birth. However, there are some spinal deformities that can affect growth, development, and movement. On a positive note, most childhood spinal issues can be corrected when detected early, often disappearing entirely by adulthood.

Scoliosis

Scoliosis (abnormal curving of the spine) is considered one of the most common childhood spinal deformities. If there is no pain associated with the curvature, parents are often advised to monitor their child for any signs of the curve becoming more severe. Signs of scoliosis include:

  • Noticeable curvature of the spine
  • Uneven shoulders (or protrusion of one shoulder blade)
  • An asymmetrical waistline

Kyphosis

Sometimes referred to as “hunch back,” kyphosis is a severe curvature of the spine exceeding 50 degrees. Sometimes occurring in the lower back or neck, kyphosis often affects the upper back. While more common in seniors, malformation in the womb can cause the condition to develop in children. The condition can often be corrected with bracing and other non-surgical spine therapies when detected early. Kyphosis signs include:

  • Back pain
  • Back stiffness
  • Hunched-forward appearance

Note: There may be no symptoms at all with mild kyphosis.

Lordosis

An excessive inward curvature of the spine is referred to as lordosis. Sometimes occurring in the neck, the condition most often appears in the lower back. Some children may have both lordosis (in the lower back) and kyphosis (in the upper back) at the same time. Generally, if the curve is flexible, nothing needs to be done. However, a fixed curve is likely to require physical therapy, with spinal fusion surgery being a last resort. Lordosis symptoms may include:

  • A “swaying backwards” appearance
  • Large gap in the lower back and floor/bed when lying on back
  • Lower back pain or discomfort

Some spinal deformities can be detected at birth. However, some conditions aren’t evident until later stages of development. Parents can take a proactive step in identifying possible childhood spinal problems with regular physical exams that include discussing anything that seems out of the ordinary, especially complaints of back pain and discomfort, which are highly unusual in children.

For more information about surgical and non-surgical spine treatments, don’t hesitate to reach out to The Spine Institute Center in Beverly Hills at (310) 828-7757 and request an in-person consultation.