Neuromuscular Scoliosis: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment


Neuromuscular scoliosis is the second most common form of scoliosis, which refers to a side-to-side curvature of the spine. The most common form of scoliosis is idiopathic scoliosis. Usually, neuromuscular scoliosis cause problems with the muscles and the brain, spine, and nerves. As time progresses, neuromuscular scoliosis tends to worsen. The condition is most commonly seen in children and adolescents and is very likely to worsen well into adulthood. In rare cases, adults may develop the condition as well.

Typically, neuromuscular scoliosis tends to influence the entire length of the spine, presenting a C-shaped curvature. People with the condition usually have trouble sitting, balancing and breathing.

In the United States, around 2% to 3% of Americans suffer from scoliosis. That is, approximately 6 to 9 million people in the United States are affected by scoliosis. And neuromuscular scoliosis only accounts for a small segment of the total number of scoliosis cases.


Often, neuromuscular scoliosis is caused by poor muscle control, weakness or paralysis. But what poses challenges on treating this condition is that the disease is associated with underlying reasons that cause neurological problems.

These underlying reasons may include:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Spina bifida
  • Spinal tumors
  • Syringomyelia
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Polio or spinal cord injury
  • Musculoskeletal tumors

Due to the complexity of the reasons behind neuromuscular scoliosis, treating people with the condition can last long and involve multiple procedures.


Common signs and symptoms of neuromuscular scoliosis may include the following:

  • Trouble sitting
  • Uneven seating posture
  • Increasing need to use arms for support in a seated position
  • Uneven shoulder heights
  • Uneven shoulder blade heights
  • Uneven hip heights
  • Uneven buttocks
  • Pain
  • Discomfort

Depending on the specific situations, the symptoms of neuromuscular scoliosis can range from mild to severe.


In order to give a definite diagnosis, the doctor will perform a physical examination first and then order certain imaging tests to confirm the condition.

In the physical examination, apart from asking for a complete medical history and family conditions, the doctor tends to check the nutritional status, joints and extremities, balance and lung, and heart functions of the patient to get a primary diagnosis.

Then, to examine the curvature of the spine, an X-ray test is likely to be done. This test can show the overall bony anatomy and allow the doctor to establish a diagnosis. Other imaging tests such as MRI imaging and CT scans may also be performed for the doctor to clearly visualize the situation of the spine.


In treating neuromuscular scoliosis, the doctor can choose non-surgical treatment and surgical treatment approaches in line with the patient’s situation.

Non-surgical treatment

The primary goal of non-surgical treatment is to prevent the spinal curves from further worsening. Available options may include:

  • Bracing. Wearing a back brace can provide support to the spine and prevent the curve from worsening to some extent.
  • Wheelchair modification. With a molded wheelchair, the patient with neuromuscular scoliosis can sit in a more comfortable position.
  • Physical therapy. Proper exercises may strengthen the back muscle and help to ease some of the symptoms of the condition.

Above all, non-surgical solutions carry many risks. Increasing pain may still occur and the curves may also get bigger bit by bit.

Surgical treatment

Once the curves are beyond 50 degrees, surgery is usually recommended. For people with neuromuscular scoliosis, the doctor is most likely to perform a spinal surgery called spinal fusion. But a spinal fusion surgery can only be done for children who have reached skeletal maturity.

In a spinal fusion procedure, the bones are fused together to become one solid bone, which becomes stable and does not allow any curvature.

Usually, with a successful spinal surgery and attentive care after the surgery, the patient with the condition can have a straighter spine, which will enable the patient to breath better, sit in a stable position and engage in routine activities.

Keywords: neuromuscular scoliosis.

Related Posts:

What is Idiopathic Scoliosis?

What are the Basics of Scoliosis?

What is the Risk of Spinal Fusion Surgery?

What is Spinal Fusion Recovery?

Information about Cerebral Palsy in Children

Can You Give Me a Simple Definition of Spina Bifida?

What is Muscular Dystrophy and What Causes It?

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.