What is Early Onset Scoliosis (EOS)?

A frequently asked question is, “What is early onset scoliosis (EOS)?” Scoliosis, a lateral (side) curvature of the spine, is often referred to based on your child’s age when scoliosis is diagnosed. Early Onset Scoliosis (EOS) refers to spine curvature present before ten years of age, and early onset scoliosis includes:

  • Congenital scoliosis – diagnosed at birth/shortly after birth
  • Infantile idiopathic scoliosis – diagnosed under age five
  • Juvenile idiopathic scoliosis – diagnosed between ages 6 – 9

The Nature of Early Onset Scoliosis

EOS is characterised by the abnormal, sideways curvature of the spine in young children. This curvature can vary in degree and form. Unlike scoliosis in older children and teenagers, EOS can have more profound effects on a child’s growth and development due to the spine’s continuous development during these early years. The curvature can progress rapidly, potentially leading to complications. 

Causes of EOS

The causes of Early Onset Scoliosis are diverse and can include congenital spine deformities and neuromuscular conditions. In some cases, the cause remains unknown, termed idiopathic EOS. Congenital EOS results from malformations of the spine during foetal development. Neuromuscular EOS is associated with conditions that affect the nerves and muscles, like cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy. 

Symptoms and Diagnosis

The primary symptom of EOS is a noticeable curve in the spine, often seen when the child is standing or bending forward. Other symptoms may include uneven shoulders, a prominent rib hump, and an imbalance in the way the child walks or stands. Diagnosis of EOS typically involves a physical examination and imaging tests like X-rays, MRI, or CT scans to assess the curvature’s severity and rule out other conditions.

Treatment Options

Treatment for EOS varies based on the curvature’s severity, the child’s age, and the underlying cause. If prescribed, non-surgical treatments may include scoliosis specific exercises, and bracing to prevent the curve from worsening. In more severe cases, surgery might be necessary to correct the curvature. 

The Importance of Early Detection

Early detection and treatment of EOS are vital. The earlier the condition is identified, the more effective the treatment can manage the curvature. Regular monitoring is essential for children diagnosed with EOS, as the spine’s growth can lead to changes in the condition’s progression.

Living with Early Onset Scoliosis

Living with EOS can be challenging for both the child and their family. It requires regular appointments, possible lifestyle adjustments, and surgical interventions in severe cases. However, with proper treatment and support, many children with EOS lead active, healthy lives.

Early Detection Is Key

Early Onset Scoliosis is a significant condition that requires attention and care. The awareness and understanding of EOS play an important role in early diagnosis and effective treatment, ensuring that affected children achieve the best possible outcomes.