Juvenile Idiopathic Scoliosis – What is it?

By Rosemary Marchese, Physiotherapist (Schroth and SEAS methods for Scoliosis)

Having your child diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Scoliosis (JIS) can be confronting. Well, that is a common term that I have heard used by parents in this situation. JIS is an abnormal curvature of the spine which occurs in children aged between 3 and 9 years. As these children have lots of growth remaining, the risk of progression is often high.When we don’t know what caused the curve, which occurs in a majority of cases, the term ‘idiopathic’ is used. 

They are generally, but not always, more at risk of progression than people who are diagnosed later on. Often they will require bracing and some will go on to require surgery. 

Treatment options in JIS

Treatment options depend on the size of the curve and how much growth is remaining. When the child is very young then physical therapy options are a little more limited because methods like Schroth method are tricky to learn at times. However modified appropriately, and under the care of specifically trained physiotherapist, the child may be able to participate in some Schroth therapy. Curves that are greater than 25 degrees or progressing fast will require bracing. Some specialists, particularly overseas, are now recommending Vitamin D supplementation as well. To find out more about Vitamin D click here. More and more support for Schroth therapy is growing and I am getting more and more feedback from families that they like having options.  

Vitamin D and Idiopathic Scoliosis

Surgery for this age group is sometimes necessary for the bigger sized curves or curves that are aggressive and progressing fast. It is important that your child’s treating team consists of professionals that are trained in scoliosis, including a doctor, orthotist, physiotherapist, and in some cases a psychologist. You and your child are central to this team. 

Can my child keep playing sport?

Yes, sport is generally encouraged and it is very rare that children are not encouraged to play sport with JIS. If they are wearing a brace the treating doctor may ask them to wear their brace during sport, or they may be allowed to take it off. Speak to your doctor and treating team about this. 


If you have any questions please email us info@schrothscoliosisphysio.com.au 



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