Scoliosis (Curvature of the Spine)

Abnormal curvature of the spine due to genetic factors or other circumstances can cause inflammation and back pain. Curvature of the spine typically develops during adolescence, before the child reaches puberty.

What You Need To Know About Scoliosis

What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine. It inflicts the thoracic spine or the thoracolumbar area of the spine and typically develops during adolescence, before the child reaches puberty.

Healthy spines curve toward the top of the shoulder and below the back. However, scoliosis causes the spine to curve from side-to-side in an "S" or "C" shape.

The condition affects an estimated six to nine million people in the United States. People living with scoliosis often begin to develop the condition when they are 10-15 years old. Symptoms usually start to appear following an adolescent growth spurt before puberty.

Although both genders equally experience onset symptoms, females are eight times more likely to have curved spines that require treatment. Private physicians account for close to 600,000 visits annually to address scoliosis symptoms.

Braces are the most common treatment, but more extreme conditions may require spinal fusion surgery. Get in touch with a scoliosis & Spine Center expert to learn more. Schedule an appointment with the experts at Resurgens Spine Center now!

What Causes Scoliosis?

In most cases, the cause of scoliosis is not understood. Genetics may play a role and scoliosis may be hereditary. It can run in families. It can also result from neuromuscular conditions, congenital disabilities and injuries of the spine. There are three types of scoliosis conditions:

Congenital Scoliosis

Congenital scoliosis occurs due to birth genetic dispositions, such as osteoporosis or congenital disabilities. One of more of the vertebrae is affected, causing irregular spinal growth. The condition is often diagnosed during early childhood because doctors and parents are aware of the pre-existing condition that may influence spinal development.

Neuromuscular Scoliosis

Some conditions can lead to neuromuscular scoliosis. Because these conditions cause nervous system complications and contribute overall muscular weakness, they are associated with cerebral palsy, spinabifida, Rett syndrome, muscular dystrophy, muscular atrophy, and spinal column trauma, among others.

Neuromuscular is the most severe form of scoliosis and may require surgical treatment to address faster-progressing symptoms.

Idiopathic Scoliosis

There is no definite cause for idiopathic scoliosis. People are diagnosed with this condition when all other types of scoliosis have been ruled out. It accounts for about 80 percent of all cases, and it is the most diagnosed type. It may be linked to hereditary issues.

It is crucial to schedule annual physical exams during adolescent growth to examine spinal cord development and correct potential abnormal curvature as early as possible. Differences in genetic history, medical history, gender, and age all affect your risk of scoliosis. Alert doctors of historical family medical records to assess potential scoliosis risks.

Scoliosis Symptoms

Scoliosis tends to develop gradually, and usually, it is not painful. A child may not realize they are experiencing a crooked spine, and a parent may overlook scoliosis symptoms. As the curvature progresses and becomes more severe, scoliosis may cause more noticeable changes in the body. Scoliosis symptoms and signs may include include:

  • Uneven waist, shoulders, and hips.
  • One shoulder blade may stick out prominently.
  • A twisted spine that may cause back pain.
  • Uneven change that limits the lungs' ability to expand, affecting breathing.
  • Slightly off-center head positioning.
  • Uneven leg lengths.
  • Twisted and rotated spine.

Only a doctor can provide an accurate scoliosis diagnosis. Schedule an appointment with a Resurgens Physician to find out more.

How is Scoliosis Diagnosed

Physicians can diagnose scoliosis during a physical examination using a variety of procedures, such as an x-ray, spinal radiograph, CT scan, or MRI. An x-ray will reveal a clear picture of the structural vertebrae to reveal deformity.

CT or CAT scans show the shape and size of the spinal canal to allow doctors to visualize the bone structure better.

MRIs are the most comprehensive visual, revealing a clear picture of the spinal cord, nerve roots, and surrounding areas affected by degeneration or deformity. Your doctor will schedule proper diagnostic screenings.

A professional examination should always involve careful assessment. Schedule an appointment for a proper spinal diagnosis.

Scoliosis Treatment Options

People living with scoliosis may need help dealing with their back pain. Most people who have scoliosis do not need treatment. When it is detected, it can be monitored closely to make sure it isn't getting worse. A doctor may recommend an orthopedic brace to prevent further curvature. Physical therapy for scoliosis may also be effective. In some cases, spinal fusion surgery may be needed to straighten and stabilize the spine.

Treatment depends on numerous factors, including the severity of spinal curvature, age, and type of scoliosis. Your doctor will create a customized treatment plan to address your condition. There are two types of treatment commonly prescribed those affected:

Scoliosis Braces

Braces are the most effective treatment options if scoliosis is detected early. Physicians recommend braces as a treatment for adolescent patients still growing with a curvature greater than 25 degrees. They effectively prevent further spinal curvature, and patients should wear their brace between 16 and 23 hours a day. For younger children, braces are recommended until the patient stops growing.

There are two types of braces: underarm and Milwaukee.

  • Underarm braces fit close to the body and treat lower spine curves.
  • Milwaukee braces start at the neck and cover the entire torso and are used for curves where underarm braces cannot help.


For severe cases — where spinal curvature exceeds 40 degrees — surgical spinal fusion may be recommended. There are many types of fusion surgeries.

During these procedures, a surgeon fuses your vertebrae using a combination of bone graft, rods, implants, and screws. Spinal fusion will not be recommended unless conservative options are ineffective. Your doctor will be able to give you more information.

Learn more about our treatment options by visiting the Spine Center at Resurgens Orthopaedics.

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