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Information on Scoliosis

It is important to have some basic information on scoliosis, starting with a description of what it is -- a sideways curvature of the spine. The condition can affect people of all ages, and in most cases, its cause is unknown. Treatment options for this disorder include observation, surgery, and bracing.

Information on Scoliosis: An Overview

Scoliosis is a musculoskeletal disorder in which there is a sideways curvature of the spine, or backbone. Some people who have it will require treatment. Other people (who have milder spinal curves) may only need to visit their doctor for periodic observation.

What Causes It?

In most people with scoliosis (80-85 percent of cases), the cause is unknown. This type of scoliosis is called idiopathic scoliosis. Doctors classify the other causes into one of two types: nonstructural (functional) scoliosis and structural scoliosis.
Nonstructural scoliosis is when the spine is structurally normal and the curve is temporary. In these cases, your doctor will try to find and correct the cause.
Structural scoliosis is when the spine has a fixed curve. In these cases, the cause could be a disease, injury, infection, or birth defect.

(Click Causes of Scoliosis for more information.)

Who Gets Scoliosis?

People of all ages can have scoliosis. Out of every 1,000 children, three to five of them will develop spinal curves that are considered large enough to need treatment.
Idiopathic scoliosis falls into three different age ranges, which include:
  • Infantile or early onset idiopathic scoliosis (children less than three years of age)
  • Juvenile idiopathic scoliosis (children between the ages of 3 and 10)
  • Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (children older than 10 years of age).
Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (scoliosis of unknown cause) is the most common type, and girls are more likely than boys to have this type of the condition. Scoliosis can run in families, which means that a child who has a parent, brother, or sister with idiopathic scoliosis should be checked regularly for scoliosis by the family physician.
Although idiopathic scoliosis can occur in children younger than 10 years of age, it is very rare and it is more common in Europe than in the United States.
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About Scoliosis

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