Scoliosis is a spinal deformity that causes abnormal curvatures in the spine. Many of the younger population live with scoliosis, from infants to teenagers. And while scoliosis tends to be associated with children, it can also affect adults. 

According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), scoliosis impacts 2-3% of the American population – that’s six to nine million individuals with irregular spine curvatures! However, these folks aren’t suffering from only one type of scoliosis. Several kinds of scoliosis are classified by its cause, the patient’s age during the first onset, and its progression rate. So, let’s discuss what these different types of scoliosis are and how to recognize their symptoms.

What Are the Main Types of Scoliosis?

There are four main types of scoliosis determined by the age of onset and its cause.

#1: Congenital Scoliosis

Congenital scoliosis is a rare condition that affects only 1 in 10,000 newborns. The spinal deformity develops in the womb and lingers after birth. A malformation in the spine of the developing fetus is typically the most common cause of congenital scoliosis. 

Because congenital scoliosis happens inside the womb, it is diagnosed earlier than the other types of scoliosis. Some symptoms of congenital scoliosis are:

  • Tilted and uneven shoulders;
  • Prominent ribs on one side;
  • Uneven waistline;
  • One hip is higher than the other;
  • Tilted head;
  • The appearance of the body leaning to one side.

In rare cases, there may be a problem with the newborn’s spinal cord and nerves, which can cause weakness and loss of coordination. Diagnostic tests like EOS imaging, x-rays, CT scans, and MRIs are advised to further investigate the condition. Then, a suitable treatment plan such as surgery can be performed by a physician. 

#2: Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis

Idiopathic scoliosis has no official known cause. However, the most common type, adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, could be due to the sudden growth spurt during adolescence. As many as 4 out of 100 children between the ages of 10 and 18 develop idiopathic scoliosis. 

As spinal growth begins to speed up after age 10, the curvature of the spine may be affected, leading to the following symptoms:

  • Uneven shoulders;
  • Uneven waistline;
  • One shoulder blade is more prominent than the other;
  • One hip is higher than the other;
  • One side of the rib cage protrudes forward;
  • One side of the back is more prominent when bending forward.

While the actual cause of idiopathic scoliosis is still unknown, many researchers continue to develop theories and study the root of this condition. Some researchers suggest a genetic link or a hormonal imbalance to be the cause of idiopathic scoliosis. 

#3: Neuromuscular Scoliosis

Neuromuscular scoliosis is a secondary condition caused by other disorders like muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, and other neuromuscular conditions. This type of scoliosis can be seen in individuals who use wheelchairs. 

Neuromuscular scoliosis occurs when brain neurons cannot communicate properly with the muscles. The curvature usually progresses into adulthood and becomes more severe in patients who can no longer walk. These individuals who use wheelchairs may have difficulty sitting upright and tend to slouch to one side. 

Some of the underlying conditions that lead to neuromuscular scoliosis are:

The first sign of neuromuscular scoliosis in individuals is a change in posture. For example, they may be leaning too forward or too sidewards when standing up or sitting down. Thankfully, this scoliosis type is not painful unless it progresses into a severe abnormal curvature. 

#4: Degenerative Scoliosis

Degenerative scoliosis, also called adult-onset scoliosis or de novo scoliosis, develops when aging causes joints and discs in the spine to deteriorate. The wear and tear of these joints connecting spinal vertebrae can cause spinal curvature to become more pronounced on one side. It’s been estimated that 68% or more of people past 60 years old have at least mild degenerative scoliosis.

Degenerative scoliosis develops in the lumbar spine or the lower back and forms a minute C-shape. Compared to the other types of scoliosis, degenerative scoliosis can become the most painful. Other degenerative scoliosis symptoms include: 

  • Dull lower back pain; 
  • Muscle fatigue;
  • Radiating pain that runs down the leg;
  • Sharp pain in the leg while walking.

Over time, people with degenerative scoliosis may lose balance on top of their poor posture. Therefore, older individuals with this scoliosis type must see a physician immediately to undergo the proper treatment.

Can I See a Chiropractor for My Scoliosis? 

The typical course of treatment for straightening scoliosis is surgery – but this is often reserved for individuals with curvatures beyond 50 degrees. Scoliotic individuals with less prominent curvatures can seek chiropractic care to treat their condition.

Seeking help from professional chiropractors can help prevent scoliosis from getting worse and manage the symptoms to improve an individual’s quality of life. In addition, chiropractors can provide a non-invasive and drug-free treatment plan for scoliotic patients and allow their bodies to heal themselves by restoring proper alignment to their spine.

We’re Looking Forward to Helping You at Our Chiropractic Offices in NJ!

At the Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center, our chiropractic team, led by Dr. Gregory Doerr, follows the highest and most professional medical standards to provide superior chiropractic help. After all, our mission is to provide unparalleled patient care and services in a comfortable healing atmosphere. Contact us to learn more about our chiropractic services! Our chiropractic offices in Cliffside Park, NJ, and Hackensack, NJ, are ready to welcome you!