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Scoliosis, sometimes called Spinal curvature or Kyphoscoliosis, is a disease causing a curving of the spine. The spine curves away from the middle or sideways.[1]

There are three general classifications of scoliosis, defined according to cause (etiology):

  • Congenital scoliosis is due to a problem with the formation of vertebrae or fused ribs during prenatal development.
  • Neuromuscular scoliosis is caused by problems such as poor muscle control or muscular weakness or paralysis due to diseases such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spinal muscular atrophy, spina bifida, and polio.
  • Ideopathic Scoliosis is a "catch-all" classification for those cases for which the cause is unidentified. It is subclassified into infantile, juvenile, adolescent, or adult onset according to when the symptoms first appeared. Despite centuries of research, 85% of the cases in the United States are classified as idiopathic.[2]

Anatomical Symptoms

Symptoms of scoliosis can include lower back pain/backache and Fatigue. Scoliosis may be suspected when one shoulder appears to be higher than the other, or the pelvis appears to be tilted. Idiopathic adolescent scoliosis is the most common type. Routine scoliosis screening is now done in many schools. Many cases, which previously would have gone undetected until they were more advanced, are now being caught at an early stage. Respiratory complications have been reported resulting from cases of severe curveature.


Surgery may benefit some patients. [3]

Most often, if the curvature is minor (typically less than 20 degrees, there will be no treatment indicated. When the curvature is more severe, spinal fusion (surgery), or braces might be prescribed by a physician. Back braces have been known to be especially difficult for adolescents and teenagers self-image. Emotional support for these patients is crucial.

Patients with neuromuscular scoliosis have another serious disorder (like cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy) so their goals are much different. Often the goal of surgery in these cases is simply to allow a child to be able to sit upright in a wheelchair. Babies with congenital scoliosis have a wide variety of underlying birth defects. Management of this disease is difficult and often requires many surgeries.


  2. accessed Feb 7, 2008
  3. Smith JS, Shaffrey CI, Berven S, Glassman S, Hamill C, Horton W et al. (2009). "Improvement of back pain with operative and nonoperative treatment in adults with scoliosis.". Neurosurgery 65 (1): 86-93; discussion 93-4. DOI:10.1227/01.NEU.0000347005.35282.6C. PMID 19574829. Research Blogging.