Scoliosis is a sideways curve in your backbone (or spine). Often, it first shows up when you're a child or teenager.The angle of the curve may be small, large, or somewhere in between.


  • Cerebral palsy

  • Muscular dystrophy

  • Birth defects

  • Infections

  • Tumors

  • Genetic conditions like Marfan syndrome and Down syndrome

Types of Scoliosis

  • Idiopathic scoliosis is scoliosis without a known cause. In as many as 80% of cases, doctors don’t find the exact reason for a curved spine.

  • Congenital scoliosis begins as a baby’s back develops before birth. Problems with the tiny bones in the back, called vertebrae, can cause the spine to curve.

  • The vertebrae may be incomplete or fail to divide properly. Doctors may spot this rare condition when the child is born. Or they may not find it until the teen years.

  • Neuromuscular scoliosis is caused by a disorder like spina bifida, cerebral palsy, or a spinal cord injury.

  • These conditions sometimes damage your muscles so they don’t support your spine correctly. That can cause your back to curve.

  • Degenerative scoliosis affects adults. It usually develops in the lower back as the disks and joints of the spine begin to wear out as you age.


If you have scoliosis, you might lean a little when you stand. You could also have:

  • A visible curve in your back

  • Shoulders, a waist, or hips that look uneven

  • One shoulder blade that looks bigger

  • Ribs that stick out farther on one side of your body than the other

In addition to visible symptoms, scoliosis may lead to:

  • Low back pain

  • Back stiffness

  • Pain and numbness in your legs (from pinched nerves)

  • Fatigue due to muscle strain


  • To check for scoliosis, your doctor might first ask you to bend over from the waist so they can see if your spine looks curved.

  • Pediatricians often do this kind of exam on children.

  • If your back looks curved, they’ll likely do an X-ray to see whether it’s scoliosis.

  • Your doctor might also do an MRI to rule out things like a tumor that could cause your spine to curve.



In kids who are still growing, wearing a brace around your torso can stop the curve from getting worse. They’re usually made of plastic. Many kids wear them 24 hours a day. You can’t see them under clothes, and they don’t stop you from doing everyday activities.

Spinal fusion surgery.

In this operation, your doctor puts pieces of bone or a similar material between bones in your spine. They use hardware to hold the bones in place until they grow together, or fuse. The surgery can lessen the curve in your spine as well as keep it from getting worse.

Spine and rib-based growing operation.

This is done to correct more serious scoliosis in children who are still growing. The doctor attaches rods to your spine or ribs with hardware. As you grow, the doctor adjusts the length of the rods.

diseases scoliosis treatments health prevention skeletal-system disorders

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