Scoliosis affects the spine. Although the spine is sometimes called "the backbone,"
it's not just one bone. It's made of lots of small bones (called vertebrae) that are
connected by a type of elastic tissue called cartilage. This gives people the flexibility
to bend, stretch, balance, and even walk.
Scoliosis is when the vertebrae form a curved line instead of being straight. Sometimes
they also rotate (twist), like a corkscrew. This can cause health problems.
Types of Scoliosis
Orthopedic specialists (doctors and other providers who treat bone and muscle problems)
group scoliosis into types. Knowing the type of scoliosis helps health care providers
This is the most common type of scoliosis. Kids can get it at any age, but most of
the time it happens around puberty when a child goes through a growth spurt. Experts
don't know exactly why this type of scoliosis develops, but it runs in some families.
Congenital scoliosis. This type of scoliosis happens when something
goes wrong with the way some of the vertebrae developed while a baby was in the womb.
The problem might not be noticed until a child goes through a growth spurt, usually
around age 2 or between 8 and 13.
Scoliosis caused by a medical condition. Some kids develop scoliosis
because they have a long-term medical problem that affects the muscles or skeletal
system. For example, kids with muscular
dystrophy, cerebral palsy,
Marfan syndrome, or osteogenesis imperfecta
may get scoliosis. Kids who have had tumors or growths on their spine may also develop
How Is Scoliosis Treated?
Small curves usually don't cause problems. But a curve that gets worse can be bad
for a person's health. Very large curves can damage the joints and cause arthritis
of the spine. Large curves can make the ribs rub against the pelvis, causing pain.
Someone whose spine curves a lot might get lung problems.
If it looks like scoliosis could cause health problems, doctors will treat it with
a back brace to prevent it
from getting worse. In some cases, kids need surgery.