Overview of Scoliosis

Scoliosis is basically a curvature of the spine. Normally, a person has a spine that has a curve at the top near the shoulders and a curve at the lower back. If you have a spine that is curved from side to side or takes the shape of an “S” or “C”, you might be suffering from Scoliosis. 

Till now, no clear cause of Scoliosis has been found. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, 80% of scoliosis cases have no identifiable cause. Scoliosis can improve with proper treatment. 

 Although it can affect people from all age groups, it is most commonly diagnosed among children aged between 10 to 15 years. It is diagnosed during the growth spurt.


Signs and Symptoms of Scoliosis

Look for these symptoms if you think you have scoliosis: 

  • A visibly rotating spine 
  • Back pain 
  • Different-sized shoulder blades
  • Differently positioned shoulder blades
  • Uneven hips
  • Uneven waistline 
  • The entire body leans toward one side 
  • The head is not centered right above the pelvis area 

Types of Scoliosis

As in the majority of cases, the exact cause of scoliosis cannot be determined, the most common type is “Idiopathic Scoliosis”. This is the term that refers to scoliosis caused by no definite reason. 

80% of scoliosis cases are from Idiopathic scoliosis. The remaining 20% can be broken down into:

  • Congenital - the spinal deformities are present since birth. 
  • Neurological - compressed nerves or some underlying muscle/nerve condition can affect the muscles in the spine. 

Scoliosis can also be categorized as:

  • Structural

In structural scoliosis, the spine curve is caused by a disease, injury or it is birth defect. Structural scoliosis is permanent. 

  • Nonstructural 


In nonstructural scoliosis, the curve is temporary and through proper treatment, it can be fixed.


Causes of Scoliosis

Some common causes are: 

  • Birth defects 

The bones in the spine may not form properly in the womb which causes scoliosis. This is called congenital scoliosis.

  • Neurological Abnormalities

This can be caused by some underlying muscle/nerve conditions like cerebral palsy.  

  • Family History 

Family history and certain genetic conditions can also cause scoliosis. 

  • Age Factor 

With age, wear and tear of the spine can occur. This is known as degenerative scoliosis. 

  • Injury/Infections 

Sometimes scoliosis is also caused by some spinal injury or infection. 

  • Genetic Conditions 


Genetic disorders like muscular dystrophy cause weakened muscles which can further lead to scoliosis. 



Risk Factors of Scoliosis

Some of the important risk factors for scoliosis. These include:

  1. Family History: Scoliosis can run in your genes so, having prior cases in your family can increase your chances of suffering from the problem.
  2. Gender: Though both genders have an equal risk of suffering from the problem among females, cases can be more severe and require immediate treatment. 
  3. Age: Chances of seeing apparent cases of scoliosis are much higher in adolescence. 



There is no known way to prevent the onset of scoliosis. However, degenerative scoliosis can be delayed by taking good care of your body posture.



You should immediately consult your healthcare provider if you feel you have some symptoms of Scoliosis. In most cases, scoliosis can be diagnosed through physical examination and a series of imaging tests. 

In a physical examination, your doctor will observe your back for spine curvatures by positioning you in different angles like standing up, bending down, or stretching.

Some imaging tests that are useful for the diagnosis are:


Treatment of Scoliosis | When to Consult a Doctor

The treatment of scoliosis depends upon many factors:

  • The degree of curvature of the spine 
  • The type of curvature 
  • The type of scoliosis 
  • Your age (whether you are likely to grow or not) 

Upon consideration of these and some other factors, your doctor will recommend a suitable treatment. If you are still growing and have spine curvature between 25 to 40 degrees, you might need to use braces. 

If your curvature is greater than 40 degrees, your doctor (Orthopedic Surgeon) may recommend surgeries like spinal fusion and bone graft. 

The sooner you start the treatment, the better it is. If you have congenital scoliosis, your pediatric physician will first notice this issue and he would consult some orthopedic surgeon for possible treatment options.