Idiopathic Scoliosis | Diagnosis and Treatment

diagnosing scoliosis

How is idiopathic scoliosis diagnosed?

Early detection of idiopathic scoliosis is diagnosed by obtaining a detailed medical history and performing a physical exam, in which the doctor often uses the “Adam's forward bend test” to detect asymmetry of the spine. This is performed by asking the child to bend forward from the waist, hang arms loosely and reach for the floor. If scoliosis is present, one side of the rib cage will be more prominent than the other. Your doctor may also order x-rays or EOS imaging.

What are the treatment options for idiopathic scoliosis?

Treatment for idiopathic scoliosis is dependent on a number of factors including age, severity, location, and the pattern and progression of the spine curvature. In many instances, simple observation is the first form of treatment.

If your child has moderate idiopathic scoliosis — curves in the 25- to 45- degree range — bracing is often recommended. While the bones are still growing, the brace keeps the spine in a straighter position to either partially correct the curve or prevent further progression.

Surgical treatment may be recommended if your child's curve is greater than 45 degrees or if bracing didn’t prevent the curve from progressing. The most common surgical procedure is a spinal fusion in which instrumentation and a fusion are used to correct and solidify the curve.

The surgical options for treating idiopathic scoliosis are similar to those for other types of scoliosis.

Scoliosis Treatment

What is the long-term outlook for idiopathic scoliosis?

Idiopathic scoliosis is not a life-threatening condition. Since the amount of time remaining to achieve complete bone growth plays a big factor, the outlook greatly depends on the nature and severity and your child’s age. Early diagnosis and early treatment can improve the outlook. Most children and adolescents diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis can look forward to normal, active lives.