Congenital Spinal Deformities

Treatment for spine disorders that develop before birth.

What are congenital spinal deformities?

Some children are born with improperly developed or incompletely formed spinal vertebrae. These conditions, known as congenital spinal deformities, cause problems related to the spine’s structure as children grow older. Severe deformities that cause spinal damage are quite rare, occurring in only one of every 2,000 children. However, if left untreated, congenital spinal deformities can cause:

  • Difficulty breathing or walking
  • Organ development problems (such as in the heart, kidneys, or urinary tract)
  • Paralysis of the legs and lower body

There are several common symptoms of congenital spinal deformities. An orthopedic specialist can diagnose the condition if your child has difficulty breathing or walking, has abnormal curves or twists in the back, or has unevenness in the shoulders, waistline, hips, or legs.

Types of congenital spinal deformities

A child could have one or multiple congenital spinal deformities, including:

  • Kyphosis: the spine grows unevenly, causing a bowed or uneven back
  • Lordosis: the lower back curves inwards, sometimes resulting in sway back (a condition that causes lower back pain)
  • Scoliosis: the spine curves or twists sideways, causing pain and disability in severe cases

Children also can have other nerve or muscle diseases -- such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida -- that can cause spinal deformities.

Treatment for congenital spinal deformities

If your child has a congenital spinal deformity, or suffers from a spinal condition due to illness or injury, our pediatric orthopedic specialists can help.

For congenital spinal deformities, we offer conservative treatments -- such as exercise therapy or braces -- whenever possible. More severe conditions may require surgery. Your doctor will recommend treatment options based on your child’s condition and overall health.

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