Scoliosis (crooked spine)

Back | Orthopaedics | Scoliosis (crooked spine) (Disease)


Scoliosis causes a sideways curve of your backbone, or spine. These curves are often S- or C-shaped. Scoliosis is most common in late childhood and the early teens, when children grow fast. Girls are more likely to have it than boys. It can run in families.

Symptoms include leaning to one side and having uneven shoulders and hips. Sometimes the curve is temporary. It might be due to muscle spasms, inflammation or having different leg lengths. A birth defect, tumor or another disease might cause the spine to have a curve that isnt temporary. People with mild scoliosis might only need checkups to see if the curve is getting worse. Others might need to wear a brace or have surgery.

Causes and Risk factors

Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is a lifetime, probably systemic condition of unknown cause, resulting in a spinal curve or curves of ten degrees or more in about 2. 5% of most populations. However, in only about 0. 25% does the curve progress to the point that treatment is warranted. The rate of shortness of breath is not increased, although patients with 50° curves at maturity or 80° curves during adulthood are at increased risk of developing shortness of breath.

Compared to non-scoliotic controls, most patients with untreated adolescent idiopathic scoliosis function at or near normal levels. They do have increased pain prevalence and may or may not have increased pain severity. Self-image is often decreased. Mental health is usually not affected. Social function, including marriage and childbearing may be affected, but only at the threshold of relatively larger curves.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Studies are investigating the effectiveness of many scoliosis treatments, including electrical stimulation, chiropractic manipulation, physical therapy, and other forms of treatment. None of these studies has been shown to alter the progression of scoliosis, but the jury is still out. Some patients find relief from symptoms when these scoliosis treatments are used.