Three Main Types of Scoliosis

Scoliosis is an abnormality in the spine, causing a curve to the side. These curves are often said to make the spine take on the appearance of a C-shape or an S-shape when viewing a patient from the back. While this may sound pretty straight-forward, there are multiple types of scoliosis.

When typified by age, patients may experience infantile (from birth to three years), juvenile (from three to nine years), or adolescent (from 10 to 18 years). Of these, adolescent scoliosis is the most common, affecting roughly 80% of idiopathic scoliosis patients. It is during this time in life that rapid growth typically occurs, which is why it is so important to monitor a child’s growth and development of the spine for any abnormalities. When the three main types of scoliosis are referenced, though, it is not typically age-range that one refers to, but instead the location of the curvature.

There are three locations in which the tell-tale curving of scoliosis typically occur, leading to a patient having thoracic, lumbar, or thoracolumbar scoliosis, with each type being named for the section of the spine that is affected. Thoracic scoliosis affects the thoracic vertebrae, or the middle of the spine. Lumbar scoliosis affects the lower back. These types of scoliosis cause the C-shaped curve in the spine, which can either curve to the left (levoscoliosis) or to the right (dextroscoliosis). Of these, thoracic dextroscoliosis is the most common. Levoscoliosis is common in the somewhat less-frequently occurring lumbar scoliosis. A curve to the left in the thoracic region is rare, and may be indicative of a more serious problem, such as a tumor in the spinal column. Thoracolumbar scoliosis refers to curves in both the thoracic and the lumbar regions. These curves may each curve in the same direction, leading to a large C-shape, or they may curve in opposite directions, causing an S-shape.

If you have concerns about your child’s posture, schedule an appointment with their doctor, who is capable of making an official diagnosis or referral to a specialist. From there, your doctor can help you determine the best form of treatment for your child’s specific condition.


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