Types of Scoliosis

There are two main things to consider when evaluating the overall shape and architecture of the spine. If you were standing directly in front of someone so that you could look at them in the eyes, the spine should appear perfectly straight if you were able to see through into them with X-ray vision. If you were standing to a person's side so that you were looking directly into the side of a person's ear, the spine would have three main curvatures. Beginning at the base of the skull, the spine should curve forwards at the neck, then arc backwards in the chest, than forwards again in the lower back. These curvatures are known as the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar curvatures.

When evaluating the health of the shape of the back, we are examining the spine as we would look at it from front to back. From a front to back view of the spine, the spine should be perfectly straight from top to bottom. Any curves that deviate from this ideal spinal architecture may be described as a lateral curvature of the spine ,or scoliosis. Another way to describe scoliosis is a side-to-side, curvature of the spine. The spine may deviate from its straight vertical line once, taking on the shape of the letter C. Or the spine may have two abnormal curves to resemble a letter S. Not all cases of scoliosis result in back pain or disability, and most cases aren't severe enough to require medical intervention. The categories and types of scoliosis are labeled according to when the condition presents for the first time, and they are also categorized according to the cause of the condition.

Types of Scoliosis: The three main types of scoliosis are classified according to that caused the abnormal curvature.

Idiopathic Scoliosis is scoliosis of no known cause. The person with this condition is born with no known healthy defects or spinal deformities or medical conditions. The child or adolescent grows up and a scoliotic curve eventually develops despite a non-history of trauma or notable medical problems.

The three subcategories of idiopathic scoliosis include:
  • Infantile Idiopathic Scoliosis This condition occurs more often in boys, and usually involves a left thoracic curve rather than a right thoracic curve. The spine spontaneously correct itself for 80% of people with infantile idiopathic scoliosis when the initial angle of the lateral curve is 30 degrees or less, initially. If the condition does not show signs of self-correction, or the angle increases, then the doctor will recommend aggressive, non surgical treatment.
  • Juvenile Idiopathic Scoliosis is diagnosed when the abnormal lateral curvature is first diagnosed in adolescence. Like the infantile form of idiopathic scoliosis, this problem may be self-correcting or worsen during child development. This condition may be noticed for the first time by a gym teacher, parent, or healthcare provider. X-Rays and MRIs may be performed to get a precise detailed profile of the spine at that time. Curves that are less than 20 degrees or less are considered mild, and not likely to require medical intervention. Lateral curves less than 20 degrees are unlikely to cause back pain or any symptoms related to the condition. If the curvature is greater than 20 degrees, or shows signs of progression, then a fitting for the Milwaukee brace will be required.
  • Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis
Congenital Scoliosis is caused by vertebral anomalies present at birth.

Neuromuscular Scoliosis is a secondary symptom of a neuromuscular condition. Neuromuscular conditions linked to this form of scoliosis include Chiari malformation, spinal muscular atrophy, spinal trauma, cerebral palsy, and spina bifida.