Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

Abnormal lateral and rotational curvature of the vertebral column. Scoliosis may be "fixed" as a result of muscle and/or bone deformity or "mobile" as a result of unequal muscle contraction.

Scoliotic curvatures are generally classified by four degrees of severity:

    Optimal spine — no scoliotic dysfunction.

  1. Mild scoliosis — demonstrates a thoracic curve of 5 degrees to 15 degrees.

  2. Moderate scoliosis — denoted by 20 to 45 degrees of curvature.

  3. Severe scoliosis — represents curvature of 45 degrees or more.

Scoliosis affects 2% of women and 0.5% of men in the general population. There are many causes of scoliosis, including congenital spine deformities, genetic conditions, neuromuscular problems and limb length inequality. Other causes for scoliosis include cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, spinal muscular atrophy and tumors. Over 80% of scoliosis cases, however, are idiopathic, which means that there is no known cause. Most idiopathic scoliosis cases are found in otherwise healthy people. People with a family history of spinal deformity are at greater risk for developing scoliosis.

Until recently, researchers have not been able to identify any specific genetic abnormalities that make a young person susceptible to scoliosis. The first gene clearly related to idiopathic scoliosis was found at the conclusion of a 10-year study, the results of which were published in 2007. Variations in this gene, CHD7 (Chromodomain-helicase-DNA-binding protein 7) can make people more susceptible to idiopathic scoliosis. It is still unclear how this gene affects a person's susceptibility.

Other Risk Factors:

    Medical condition such as rheumatoid arthritis, muscular dystrophy, polio, and cerebral palsy, children who receive organ transplants are at increased risk.

  • Mitral valve prolapse (MVP).

  • Magnesium deficiency.

  • Hypoestrogenism.

  • Hypermobility.


Scoliosis is often painless. The curvature itself may often be too subtle to be noticed. Some of the most common signs of scoliosis include:

    Shoulders are different heights—one shoulder blade is more prominent than the other.

  • Head is not centered directly above the pelvis.

  • Leaning of entire body to one side.

  • Appearance of a raised, prominent hip.

  • Rib cages are at different heights.

  • Uneven waist.


Doctors use a medical and family history, physical exam, and tests when checking a person for scoliosis.

Adam's Forward Bend Test: The forward bend test is used most often in schools and doctor's offices to screen for scoliosis. During the test, the child bends forward with the feet together and knees straight while dangling the arms. Any imbalances in the rib cage or other deformities along the back could be a sign of scoliosis.

Imaging Test: An x ray of the spine can help the doctor decide if a person has scoliosis. The x ray lets the doctor measure the curve in degrees (such as 20 degrees) and see its location, shape, and pattern.


Treatment for scoliosis is based on:

    The person's age

  • How much more he or she is likely to grow.

  • The degree and pattern of the curve.

  • The type of scoliosis.

Based on this the doctor may recommend observation, bracing, or surgery.

Bracing is usually recommended when the curve is more than 25 to 30 degrees. Doctors use surgery to correct a curve or stop it from getting worse when the person is still growing, the curve is more than 45 degrees, and the curve is getting worse. Surgery often involves fusing together two or more bones in the spine. The doctor may also put in a metal rod or other device. These devices are called implants. They stay in the body and help keep the spine straight after surgery.

Other uncommon treatment includes

    Chiropractic treatment.

  • Electrical stimulation.

  • Nutritional supplements.

Disclaimer:The above information is general information. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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