The Most Common Spinal Conditions in Children

The Most Common Spinal Conditions in Children

If you notice that your child’s posture isn’t quite what it should be or that they have limited or impeded mobility, it’s normal to be concerned. After all, parents want the best for their children. The spine curving abnormally can cause spinal problems, which can put pressure on the vertebrae and potentially affect mobility and cause pain.

Because the spine is such a complex array of bones, abnormal curvature has many different presentations, resulting in several common disorders and conditions. They can range from mild to severe. Some are easily treated without much effect on day-to-day life, while others may have serious implications for movement. These are the most common spinal conditions in children.


You can identify scoliosis by an abnormal sideways curve in the spine. This is one of the most common spinal conditions in children, and it often results in back pain and even problems with breathing. Doctors usually identify this common condition in adolescents, but with an early diagnosis—likely made during a regular checkup—you can effectively treat scoliosis with bracing.


Spondylolysis is the result of a fractured vertebra. This may be due to injury or repetitive stress (especially in athletic children), or it may be congenital. This is one of the most common causes of lower back pain during exercise or physical activities in children and young adults. However, it can usually heal without the need for surgery when treated with rest, core exercises, bracing, and physical therapy. However, when severe, it may require further treatment.


When one vertebra slips forward, it can cause spondylolisthesis, often resulting in tightness and pain. It typically presents as a complication of spondylolysis. Thankfully, this spinal condition is often mild, and it heals on its own with rest and exercises to build strength and flexibility in the back. When severe, though, it may require surgery.


An abnormal curve in the upper spine causes kyphosis, creating a “hunchback” look. It can be congenital, but it’s more likely to develop in adolescence, especially if the teen has a habit of slouching. It usually doesn’t require any treatment unless the curve is severe enough to create pain and difficulty breathing. The only treatments, when necessary, are bracing or surgery.


Lordosis creates an inward curve in the lower spine, which in turn creates a “swayback” look. It’s noticeable by the buttocks sticking out further than usual. Severe cases often present with pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness. Poor posture, being overweight, or injury or trauma most often cause it. Physical therapy and exercise can treat it, but in very rare cases, it may require surgery.

Christina Duron is a writer living in the Chicagoland area. Her passion for writing and health helps her create thought-provoking, engaging pieces, and she hopes to use them to empower readers to play more active roles in their personal health care journeys.

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