Early Onset Scoliosis

Early Onset Scoliosis (EOS) is a form of spinal deformity in which a child’s spine (below 10 years of age) curves sideways. Over 100,000 children in the United States are found with this condition every year. Most of these children are diagnosed with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis and they fall between 10 and 15 years of age.

Here at the Southwest Scoliosis Institute, we have a team of experts and specialists that focuses on diagnosing and treating scoliosis and other spinal deformities. We routinely conduct spinal surgery and revision surgery for children and adults.

Types of Early Onset Scoliosis (EOS)

Medical experts have identified different types of EOS. Most of the types of EOS have a specific cause that relates to different health issues. A subset of the cases of EOS are idiopathic; which means they don’t have any known cause, and are thus, identified based on the child’s age when it was diagnosed.

Here are the types of early-onset scoliosis:

Congenital Scoliosis

This occurs when the bones of the spine are not formed properly during pregnancy.

Neuromuscular Scoliosis

This form of EOS can link to disorders in the brain, spinal cord, or muscular system (for instance muscular dystrophy). These disorders hinder the back muscles from holding the spine in a straight position.

Syndromic Scoliosis

This condition develops from an underlying disorder that affects many parts of the body.

Infantile Idiopathic Scoliosis

This condition becomes noticeable in children between birth and 10 years of age. There is no known cause for this type of EOS.

Juvenile Idiopathic Scoliosis

This condition is normally found in children between 4 and 10 years of age. Its cause is not known.

Causes of EOS

Early Onset Scoliosis becomes noticeable in young children when a child has any of the following:

  • Pigeon breast (a condition whereby the breastbone appears exaggerated in an outward position at birth).
  • Fused ribs (a condition in which the ribs are connected).
  • Syndromes like neurofibromatosis (NF).
  • Spinal muscular atrophy, cerebral palsy, and other neuromuscular conditions.

Signs and Symptoms of Early Onset Scoliosis

Doctors may find it difficult to identify EOS because some children do not have severe spine curvature and may not feel the pain that hinders them from their activities. Doctors can detect early signs of this condition by examining the child’s ‘symmetry’.

Here are the commonest signs of EOS:

  • The body leans to one side
  • Uneven waistline
  • Uneven shoulders (one shoulder blade sticks out more)
  • Off-balance hip height
  • Ribs appear to protrude more on one side

Why Does Early Onset Scoliosis Matter?

The changes in shape can make your child feel bad about themselves as they grow older. Some people feel very embarrassed about their body shape. As your child grows, the shape can change (especially at a period of sudden growth).

If the conditions get more serious, it can tamper with the mechanisms of the child’s spine thereby leading to pain or aching. In some cases, EOS can affect how the lungs develop and function (especially if the condition affects an individual in early life). If the condition does not get monitored and treated at the appropriate time, it can lead to serious lung-related issues in adulthood. This can affect the person’s daily life and can also affect the heart.

EOS that becomes detected early in life can get more severe due to the growth that the spine will undergo. Bigger spinal curves can cause most of the problems described earlier. Thus, parents should want our spine experts and specialists at the Southwest Scoliosis Institute to treat their child’s scoliosis.

How Do The Experts At Southwest Scoliosis Institute Detect Early Onset Scoliosis?

Our Doctors will first ask questions about your child’s health, how certain activities affect your child and we will try to understand the amount of growth and development that remains. Our scoliosis experts and specialists will also examine the spine to see your child’s back and understand its flexibility. We will look at the child’s back while bent forwards (Adam’s position) because this enables the doctors to visually inspect the spine and easily detect scoliosis. We will also examine your child’s arms and legs to ensure that they can move normally.

If our doctors believe there is Scoliosis, they will send your child for a CT scan to verify the condition. The doctor will measure the angle of the curve as contained in the CT scan. The CT scans will also help our specialists understand the cause of scoliosis (if there are any). In some cases, the CT scan can also help us determine if the condition can get worse.

Our scoliosis specialists may ask your child to go for an MRI scan for a further diagnosis. If we need to monitor your child’s scoliosis, you will need to return in a few months for another set of examinations and a CT scan.

EOS Treatment

Some children with EOS do not need treatment because their condition may not get worse or may correct itself as they grow. Others with a progress spine curvature may require immediate treatment to prevent the chest wall from deforming while providing room for the lungs to develop normally. Children with early-onset scoliosis need medical monitoring to determine the type of treatment needed for each child.

At the Southwest Scoliosis Institute, our collaborative, family-centered treatment will give your child the care he or she needs. A team of scoliosis experts and specialists will work with you to take care of your child. While planning your child’s treatment, our experts will consider the condition of the curve, its position in the spine, your child’s stage of growth and age, and other health conditions your child has.

The following processes are involved in the treatment plan:


The doctor’s first step is to monitor your child through 6 to 9 monthly appointments. The appointment will involve examining scoliosis again and having a CT scan to measure the curve of the spine. If scoliosis remains the same whenever your child goes for an appointment, the doctor will keep monitoring the condition until your child becomes fully grown.


Children with EOS can actively take part in sports or exercise. The child needs to remain active so that he or she can have good core muscles. Although exercise by itself does not stop scoliosis from progressing. Lots of studies are currently ongoing to prove the role exercise plays in this condition.

Bracing or Body Casting

The initial treatment that is often used for young children and babies is a plaster jacket. This is done after applying an anesthetic and it gets changed every month. We will give you all the support you need for this. Plaster jackets are a proven method of stopping a spinal curve from getting worse in children with EOS.

Doctors will suggest wearing a brace if the brace can fit the child. Braces are usually rigid and the child must wear it for 23 hours every day. Your child can wear them under his or her clothes. Their positive effect can be seen if they are used constantly. You can take the brace off your child for bathing, sports and at other times where its not proper.

Early Onset Scoliosis Surgery

Your child may need surgery if the curve in the spine gets worse. The surgery’s goal is to prevent the curve from getting worse and to ensure that the spine grows and increases in length with time. To get these results, rods are used together with implants to connect the rods to the bones of the spines.

More than one surgery may become necessary as the length of the rods will need changing to allow the spine to grow. Since the spine bones are usually small during the initial surgery, the screws and hooks that support the spine may need replacing as well.  Once the surgeon notices that the amount of growth left in the spine is minimal, a final surgery may be performed.

Let’s Give Your Child A Bright Future

With today’s technology and medical advancements, treating your child with early-onset scoliosis can lead to a very successful life for the child.  Fortunately, new treatments can help to manage and correct the curve in the spine. Through your encouragement and support, coupled with the dedication of our scoliosis experts and specialists, we will help your child lead a happy life.

Finally, your scoliosis treatment team at the Southwest Scoliosis Institute is available to ensure your child’s continued health. You can be assured that there is hope. Our specialists are always ready to speak with you. So, call us today at 214-556-0555 to schedule an appointment with our team.



If you or your loved one suffers from degenerative disc disease, a herniated disc, or another complex spine condition. We can help. Call Southwest Scoliosis Institute at 214-556-0555 to make an appointment today.