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Scoliosis is a medical condition where the spine instead of resembling a straight line, gets curved side to side. The spine appears like a ‘?’or ‘S’.


The sideways curvature of the spine that occurs mostly around puberty is called as scoliosis. This condition is mostly seen due to cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy. However, in most cases, the cause remains idiopathic. On an X-ray, the curve appears as ‘S’ or ‘C’. Physically, the shoulders or waists appear uneven. In some cases, one shoulder blade appears more prominently than the other due to the rotation of the bones.

In many children, scoliosis is a mild condition. However, the curvature can worsen with time and lead to many complications. The curve can add pressure on the chest, limiting the space for the expansion of the lungs. Thus, leading to lung function problems.

Mild scoliosis does not require treatment in most cases. However, the patient is monitored regularly to see if the curve worsens. Most of the cases, the child may require wearing a brace as it prevents further curving of the spine. Surgery may also help in some cases.

Symptoms of Scoliosis

Scoliosis exhibits the following symptoms:

  • Uneven shoulders
  • Uneven waist
  • One shoulder blade more prominent than the other
  • One hip appears higher than the other
  • In severe cases, the spine will rotate or twist. This causes pressure on the chest leading to back pain and breathing problems


It has been found:

  • About 15% cases of scoliosis are congenital
  • 65% cases are idiopathic
  • And only 10% cases are related to a neuromuscular disease

Congenital conditions that can lead to scoliosis include congenital scoliosis as well as other birth defects that affect the spine. Neuromuscular diseases like cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy. Scoliosis is more common in females during the adolescence growth spurt than males.


In most cases, teachers, parents, friends, etc. notice the curve in the spine of the affected child. This often leads the child and the parents to seek medical advice. The doctor will conduct a physical examination. The child may be askd to stand ad then bend forward from the waist. This will help the doctor see any type of muscle weakness or find any rib cage appear more prominently than the other. Diagnostic tests conducted include:

  • X ray
  • CT Scan
  • MRI
  • Bone scan


Traditional line of treatment includes observation of the curvature and skeletal maturity over a period of time, bracing and surgery in children. In case of adults, the treatment includes use of pain medications, bracing, exercise and even surgery in some cases.

There are two types of braces: the underarm or low profile brace and the Milwaukee brace.

The prognosis of sclerosis depends on its progression. Those with larger curves are at higher risk of progression than those with smaller curves. If you observe any changes in the spine, shoulder blades, waist or the hip alignment, take the child to a doctor. Medical intervention will help prevent further curvature and related complications of scoliosis.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: April 06, 2015