Conditions InDepth: Scoliosis
Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine. Instead of going from top to bottom in a relatively straight line, a spine with scoliosis may appear to have a side-to-side “S-shaped” or “C-shaped” curve. Mild degrees of scoliosis won’t cause you any problems. However, more severe cases of scoliosis can result in pain, weakness, and low self-esteem because of obvious cosmetic deformity. Very severe scoliosis may cause heart and lung problems if those organs are overly cramped in an abnormally shaped chest cavity.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Most cases of scoliosis begin when a child is around 8 to10 years old with gradual progression of the abnormal curvature as they continue to grow.
There are several types and classifications of scoliosis.
Structural scoliosis occurs because of a vertebral body defect. Classification of structural scoliosis is based on the cause of the defect:
- Congenital—occurs during fetal development
- Syndromic—occurs as a result of an underlying health condition that affects the nerves, muscles, or bones in the back and spine
- Idiopathic—occurs without a specific cause, but is likely due to a combination of multiple genetic factors
They may also be classified by age at onset as infant, juvenile, or adolescent.
Functional scoliosis is the result of an underlying condition that affects the alignment of the spine due to muscle imbalances, differing leg lengths, or other health conditions that cause the muscles to tense and spasm.
This type of scoliosis can be reversed by treating the underlying condition.
Last reviewedNovember 2013by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.