Neuromuscular scoliosis (NMS) is a type of scoliosis. Scoliosis is a condition where the spine twists and/or curves to the side. NMS is caused by an underlying medical condition that affects a body’s neurological and/or muscular system(s).


View our video, "What is Scoliosis?"

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What are the signs and symptoms of neuromuscular scoliosis?

  • Uneven shoulders
  • One shoulder blade that protrudes more than the other
  • Ribs more prominent on one side
  • Uneven waistline
  • Difference in hip height

Children with NMS may also have other types of spinal curves. This could include kyphosis (hunchback) or lordosis (swayback). Larger curves may reduce space in the chest and cause breathing problems.

What causes neuromuscular scoliosis?

NMS is caused by an underlying medical condition that affects the body’s neurological system and/or muscular system. Conditions include:

  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Spina bifida

How is neuromuscular scoliosis diagnosed?

  • Physical exam
  • X-rays
  • Additional imaging if needed
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
    • Computed tomography (CT) scan

How is neuromuscular scoliosis treated?

Treatment for neuromuscular scoliosis depends on the extent of your child’s condition, as well as the underlying condition that caused it.

A multidisciplinary approach is needed to treat neuromuscular scoliosis. NMS treatment teams may include orthopedists, pediatricians, pulmonologists, neurologists and others. Because NMS results from other conditions, the underlying condition guides the treatment plan.

There are several non-surgical and surgical treatment options to treat neuromuscular scoliosis:

  • Physical therapy
  • Wheelchair modification
  • Bracing for patients who use a wheelchair (not recommended for NMS patients who walk; it may cause an unsteady gait)
  • Spinal fusion for spine stabilization
  • MAGEC™ growing rods

MAGEC (MAgnetic Expansion Control) rods are surgically implanted but do not require repeated surgery to match a child’s growth; instead, they are lengthened non-invasively using powerful magnets outside the body

Connecticut Children’s is experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of this neuromuscular scoliosis, with expertise using MAGEC growing rods. Doctors at Connecticut Children’s continue to research neuromuscular scoliosis and its treatments. We have published extensively on this topic.