Types of scoliosis

Idiopathic Scoliosis

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, in cooperation with the Scoliosis Research Society, describe three different types of scoliosis that can occur in children – idiopathic, congenital (present at birth), neuromuscular.

Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common, making up to 85 percent of all cases. Scoliosis is more common in females than males. Idiopathic scoliosis does tend to run in loosely. It is believe a combination of genetic, endocrine/hormonal, environmental and growth factors cause scoliosis. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, 3 to 5 out of every 1,000 children develop spinal curves that are considered large enough to require treatment.

Early Onset Scoliosis

  • Infantile Idiopathic Scoliosis, where onset comes within the first three years of life, is rare. Most curves are to the left. This is seen in boys more than girls. Often these curves are in otherwise healthy infants and resolve on their own. However rarely these curves can progress and require treatment. Rarely they can be associated with other medical or developmental problems. Visit the Infantile Scoliosis Outreach Program website to learn more.
  • Juvenile Idiopathic Scoliosis. This occurs in children ages 4-10. This type of idiopathic scoliosis makes up 10-15% of children with idiopathic scoliosis. These children have a higher incidence of a spinal cord problem and often require an MRI.

Other Types of Scoliosis


This type of scoliosis occurs in 1 out of 1,000 live births. It is often caused by one of the following: Failure of the vertebrae to form normally, absence of vertebrae, abnormally formed or fused vertebrae. It often requires further evaluation, including MRI of the spine and evaluation of your child’s heart and kidney development. Congenital scoliosis is watched closely, especially during the first five years of life when the spine is growing rapidly and then again during adolescence. Bracing is not usually helpful.


This is associated with many neurological conditions, including cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, paralytic conditions, chiari malformation, tethered cord or spinal cord tumors. It results in a C-shaped, or long, irregular curve, and is thought to be caused from the abnormal muscle/nerve pathways. The severity of neuromuscular scoliosis is often dependent on what the underlying neurological condition is and what nerves and muscles are involved. The incidence can vary from 25 to 100 percent. A multidisciplinary approach is needed to determine the best treatment and outcome for these patients.