- Scoliosis is an abnormal curve in the spine.
- There are several types of scoliosis based on the cause and age when the curve develops; the majority of patients have no known cause.
- The most common symptom of scoliosis is curvature of the spine.
- Scoliosis risk factors include age (9-15-year-olds), female sex, and family history.
- Diagnosis is done by the physical exam and by imaging techniques such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs.
- Depending on the severity of the curve and the risk for it getting worse, scoliosis can be treated with observation, bracing, or surgery.
- The prognosis for an individual with scoliosis ranges from mainly good to fair, depending on how early the problem is diagnosed and treated.
- There is no cure for scoliosis but the symptoms can be reduced.
What is scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a disorder that causes an abnormal curve of the spine, or backbone. The spine has normal curves when looking from the side, but it should appear straight when looking from the front. Kyphosis is a curve in the spine seen from the side in which the spine is bent forward. There is a normal kyphosis in the middle (thoracic) spine. Lordosis is a curve seen from the side in which the spine is bent backward. There is a normal lordosis in the upper (cervical) spine and the lower (lumbar) spine. People with scoliosis develop additional curves to either side of the body, and the bones of the spine twist on each other, forming a "C" or an "S" shape in the spine.
Scoliosis is about two times more common in girls than boys. It can be seen at any age, but it is most common in those over about 10 years of age. Scoliosis is hereditary in that people with scoliosis are more likely to have children with scoliosis; however, there is no correlation between the severity of the curves from one generation to the next.