Types of Scoliosis2019-02-19T17:35:09+00:00

Types Of Scoliosis

There are different types of scoliosis, and they are classified by their cause or by the age at which they were diagnosed.  The most common type is idiopathic scoliosis in adolescents, which describes scoliosis without known cause diagnosed during adolescence.

What is the meaning of idiopathic?

Given that most diagnosed scoliosis are called idiopathic, it is important to understand the meaning of this word.  Idiopathic is the term that the doctors use to call an illness in which the cause is unknown, and there is not a known factor key to its development.  Given that most investigations show that scoliosis is a multifactorial illness, with multiple aspects that influence its development and progression, it not surprising that the majority of the scoliosis types are deemed idiopathic.

Entomology of the scoliosis

The entomology, or origin, of the scoliosis we can divide three different categories:

Neuromuscular. The deformity of scoliosis occurs in patients with pathologies of neurological or musculoskeletal origin, such as myelomeningocele, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, or asymmetry in the length of the lower extremities.  We should remember that the majority of people who present with asymmetry in the length of the extremities have less than 1 cm of difference, which does not play a part in scoliosis. When the scoliosis develops because of asymmetry in the legs, the asymmetry is generally greater than two centimeters.

Congenital. This type of scoliosis is the result of an asymmetry in the development of the vertebras, secondary to congenital anomalies (hemivertebrae, failure in segmentation). This type of scoliosis generally manifests in newborns and small children.

Idiopathic. This term is applied to scoliosis where we cannot find a specific cause that explains the deformity of the development.  Regularly it is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning that it only applies when other possible origins of the pathology have been ruled out.  This type of scoliosis it is subdivided at the same time in three categories., based in the age in which the deformity was detected:

  • Infantile scoliosis. From 0 to 3 years.
  • Juvenile scoliosis. From 4 to 9 years.
  • Adolescent scoliosis. Starting at 10 years old.

Mild, moderate and severe

Scoliosis is usually described as mild, moderate or severe, even though we have to point out that these are not formal classifications.

Mild scoliosis generally is used to refer to cases in which the Cobb angle is 20 degrees or less, and in which medical protocols recommend waiting and observing, and may recommend exercises.

Moderate Scoliosis oscillates between 20 and 40 degrees, and at this level it is recomended to be treated with a brace for 8 to 23 hours daily.

Severe Scoliosis refers to cases equal to or above 40 degrees in an adolescent or 45 degrees in an adult. Upon reaching these levels orthopedists and neurosurgeons recommend surgery.