4 Types of Scoliosis – Do You Know Yours?

Scoliosis, according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, is “an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine”. In Singapore, “the incidence of scoliosis here is about 2.3 per cent”*. “At Singapore General Hospital, there was an 8 per cent increase in adult scoliosis patients from 2016 to 2017″*. As awareness for the condition increase, we at Align Brace hope to share our knowledge to keep the community better informed. Generally, scoliosis can be broadly classified into 4 types:-

Congenital Scoliosis

A spinal defect detected at birth where it occurs in 1/10000 newborns, happens when the spine is malformed in the womb. Typically diagnosed much earlier than other forms of scoliosis.

Neuromuscular scoliosis

Manifests in individuals with an underlying condition such as paralysis, paraplegia, in the presence of a tumour or a neurological deficit. Common in persons with spinal bifida, Marfan syndrome, muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy. This form of scoliosis is likely to progress more quickly than others.

Degenerative scoliosis

Or sometimes known as adult onset scoliosis, which develops slowly over time. Caused by wear and tear on the spine or facet joints resulting in a spinal shift in compensation. The spine may also be affected by osteoporosis, compression fractures or disc degenerations. Most likely to be accompanied by some form of pain.

Idiopathic scoliosis

Most common form of scoliosis, making up to 80% of diagnosed cases. Usually affects those between ages 10-18 years of age. These curve progress as the individual ages and slows down upon hitting maturity. Although the likelihood of scoliosis is the same for both genders, girls are more likely to have more severe curves that progress to require treatment. Unfortunately, studies of the cause remain inconclusive. Hence, the term ‘idiopathic’.

It is becoming more apparent that treating the condition early is vital to avoid the need for surgery later. To that end, kindly note that treatment goals should vary according to the type of scoliosis along with the age of the individual. For example, an adolescent with idiopathic scoliosis will focus on reducing the degree of curvature. Whereas an adult with degenerative scoliosis will look at alleviating pain and maintaining quality of life. Regardless of the type of scoliosis, studies have shown that bracing is a viable treatment. Previously, the focus was merely arresting the curve. However, rigid brace design has evolved to being able to reduce the degree of rotation and angle of curves. Please share this information with anyone you feel may benefit from learning more about the 4 types of scoliosis.


*according to NST article, published Nov 11, 2018