What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a condition that causes a 3-dimensional shift in the spine.

  • From the back, the spine may have a C or S shape curve rather than that of a straight line, this can make the waist lines uneven or one shoulder lower than the other.
  • From the side view, the normal spinal curves are often straightened, which makes the mid-back appear flat. Shoulder blades may be prominent.
  • While looking from the head down to the feet, there is a rotation or twist which can cause ribs or one side of the lower back to appear humped or more prominent.

In 80% of scoliosis cases, the exact cause is unknown and is termed “Idiopathic” scoliosis. In these cases, the cause is often considered to be multifactorial.

Approximately 3-4% of children are affected by scoliosis. While in adults over the age of 50, this figure increases to 30-40%.

Idiopathic scoliosis is typically classified according to the age that it is diagnosed. It is most common in adolescent’s (over 10 years), but also occurs in infants (under 3 years) and juvenile’s (3-10 years).

The number of people affected by scoliosis increases after the age of 50 due to increased spinal degeneration and ligament weakening. This is known as Degenerative or “De-Novo” scoliosis.

The earlier scoliosis is detected, the better the treatment and management plan will be. This helps reduce the reduce the risk of progression and potential need for surgery. If scoliosis specific exercise and/or bracing are used early enough in the development of scoliosis, curve progression can be stopped and surgery avoided.

Less frequently, scoliosis can at times be a sign of congenital spinal malformations, underlying neuromuscular conditions, metabolic conditions, traumas or significant pathologies.