Scoliosis is an abnormal side-to-side curvature of the spine that can have an “S” or “C” shaped appearance. The spine may also take on a multi-dimensional curvature as it twists or rotates pulling the ribs along with it.
This curvature may be noticed by appearance or examination by a health care provider, but can be diagnosed on an x-ray. After diagnosis, physicians can use tools to measure the curve. The Scoliosis Research Society defines scoliosis as a curvature of the spine measuring more than 10 degrees or greater on x-ray.
Often times scoliosis presents a cosmetic challenge more than a health risk. Children, teens or young adults with mild scoliosis may not experience pain or other symptoms. In more severe cases in which the spine is greatly curved, the internal organs may be put at risk. Surgery is often required in this case.
is the most common form, with no definite cause. It mainly affects adolescent girls but also appears in infants and juveniles.
is associated with a neuro- muscular condition such as cerebral palsy, myopathy or spina bifida.
the least common form, is present at birth and is caused by a failure of the vertebrae to form normally.
Three to five children out of every 1,000 develop spinal curves that are considered large enough to require treatment. Adolescent girls are eight to ten times more likely to develop a scoliosis that requires treatment than boys.
Because there are many types of scoliosis, the abnormal curve of the spine can appear differently in each individual affected.
Screening by a health care provider can reveal many common signs and symptoms of scoliosis.
Correct diagnosis leads to correct treatment. The first step in diagnosis is a history and physical exam by your health care provider. Following a thorough exam, your provider may order a variety of diagnostic tests including x-ray, MRI or CT Scan to assess the scoliosis.
Once the diagnosis of scoliosis has been made, it will determine if treatment should be with or without surgery.