Scoliosis Overview

Scoliosis occurs when the spine curves to the side. The condition is most common in adolescents and often goes undiagnosed unless it is severe. The cause of most childhood scoliosis is unknown and most cases are mild, but some may have a curve that worsens as the child grows. 

If symptoms are experienced, an appointment with a Carolina Orthopaedic and Neurosurgical Associates (CONA) spine specialist should be made.

Symptoms & Causes

Scoliosis symptoms include:

  • One side of the hip higher than the other
  • Tilted waist
  • Uneven shoulders
  • Uneven shoulder blades
  • One side of the ribcage jutting forward
  • A prominence on one side of the back when bending forward

In most scoliosis cases, the spine will rotate or twist in addition to curving side to side. This can cause the ribs or muscles on one side of the body to stick out farther than the other side. Severe scoliosis may put pressure on the chest and lungs. Chest pain and breathing difficulties may present.

Risk Factors

There are many factors associated with the development of the most common type of scoliosis, these include:

  • Age – Signs and symptoms typically begin in adolescence
  • Sex – Although males and females develop mild scoliosis at the same rate, girls have a much higher risk of the curve worsening and requiring treatment
  • Family Background – Scoliosis can run in the family, but a lot of children with scoliosis do not have a family history of the disease


Common Treatments:

Scoliosis treatment varies depending on the severity of the curve, however, many scoliosis cases do not need to be treated. If symptoms become bothersome, a CONA spine specialist may recommend a corrective brace. Surgery may be recommended to treat severe scoliosis. A CONA spine specialist straightens and fixates the spine.

Bracing or surgery may be needed if the spinal curve is severe; in this case, there are many factors to consider including but not limited to:

  • Maturity – Braces have the most effect on children whose bones are not done growing. The risk of curve progression once a child’s bones are done growing is low
  • The Severity of The Curve – Larger curves are more likely to worsen with time
  • Sex – Females have a higher risk of progression than males

While there are no specific exercises or activities that cause or correct scoliosis, general exercise or participating in sports may carry the benefit of improving overall health and well-being. With that said, people with scoliosis have no restrictions regarding activities.


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