What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine bends to the side abnormally; either to the right or left.

The curvature can be moderate to severe and it is about two times more common in girls than boys. The condition can occur at any age, but it is most common in those over about 10 years of age.

Scoliosis is hereditary in that people with the condition are more likely to have children with scoliosis; however, there is no correlation between the severity of the curves from one generation to the next.

What is the Causes?

There are many types and causes of scoliosis, including:

Congenital scoliosis.

Caused by a bone abnormality present at birth. Neuromuscular scoliosis. A result of abnormal muscles or nerves.

Frequently seen in people with spina bifida or cerebral palsy or in those with various conditions that are accompanied by, or result in, paralysis.

Degenerative scoliosis.

This may result from traumatic (from an injury or illness) bone collapse, previous major back surgery, or osteoporosis (thinning of the bones).

Idiopathic scoliosis.

The most common type of scoliosis, idiopathic scoliosis, has no specific identifiable cause. Scientists and researcher have many theories, but none have been found to be conclusive. However, evidence strongly indicates that idiopathic scoliosis is inherited.


  • You may walk with a rolling gait
  • Tired feeling in the spine after sitting or standing for a long time
  • Uneven hips or shoulders (one shoulder may be higher than the other)
  • Rib hump or small bump on back
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat


If your child’s bones are still growing and he or she has moderate scoliosis, your doctor may recommend a brace.

Wearing a brace won’t cure scoliosis, or reverse the curve, but it usually prevents further progression of the curve.

A patient will have to wear most braces day and night. The effectiveness of a brace increases with the number of hours a day it’s worn.

Types of braces
Underarm or low-profile brace.

This type of brace is made of modern plastic materials and is contoured to conform to the body.

Also called a thoracolumbosacral orthosis, this close-fitting brace is almost invisible under the clothes, as it fits under the arms and around the rib cage, lower back and hips. Underarm braces are not helpful for curves in the upper spine or neck.

Milwaukee brace.

This full-torso brace has a neck ring with rests for the chin and for the back of the head. The brace has a flat bar in the front and two flat bars in the back.

Patients will have to wear Milwaukee brace only in situations where an underarm brace doesn’t help, because they are more cumbersome.


Severe scoliosis typically progresses with time, so your doctor might suggest scoliosis surgery to reduce the severity of the spinal curve and to prevent it from getting worse.

The most common type of scoliosis surgery is called spinal fusion.

In spinal fusion, surgeons connect two or more of the bones in the spine (vertebrae) together, so they can’t move independently.

The surgeon will place pieces of bone or a bone-like material between the vertebrae.

Metal rods, hooks, screws or wires typically hold that part of the spine straight and still while the old and new bone material fuses together.

Complications of spinal surgery may include bleeding, infection, pain or nerve damage.

Rarely, the bone fails to heal and another surgery may be needed.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy exercises may help depending on the person but it won’t stop scoliosis.


We have multiple articles on the subject if you are interested in reading more.

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