Everyone's spine has curves. These curves produce the normal rounding of the shoulder
and the sway of the lower back.
A spine with scoliosis has abnormal curves with a rotational deformity. This means that
the spine turns on its axis like a corkscrew. Compare the more subtle
curve of the normal spine to the severe curvature of the scoliotic spine.
Scoliosis is a curvature
of the spine which may have its onset in infancy but is most frequently
seen in adolescence. It is more common in females by a 2:1
ratio. However, when curves in excess of 30 degrees are evaluated, females
are more frequently affected by a ration of approximately 8-10:1.
The cause of the
most common form of scoliosis -- idiopathic scoliosis -- is unknown,
but there are certainly hereditary factors that are present.
shoulder, trunk and waistline asymmetry. In mild forms, the condition
may be barely noticed; whereas in severe forms there is significant disfigurement,
back pain and postural fatigue, and it may be associated with heart failure.
Fortunately the majority of scoliosis cases need only close follow-up to watch for worsening of the curve. Some cases require more aggressive
treatment which could include surgery (see below).
Orthopedic surgeons are best qualified to evaluate and treat deforming spinal conditions like
scoliosis. However, a good resource for further information is:
The National Scoliosis Foundation
Phone: 079-2657 8558
treatment of scoliosis involves observing the deformity with examinations
and repeated x-rays. Under certain circumstances, when spinal growth
remains, a brace may be used in combination with follow-up x-rays.
Physical therapy exercises have not been shown to be effective treatment
Surgical treatment of
scoliosis may be indicated for any of the following reasons:
- To prevent further
progression of the curve.
- To control the
curve when brace treatment has failed.
- To improve an undesired
- For reasons of
discomfort or postural fatigue.