Scoliosis

Alternative Names

Spinal curvature; Kyphoscoliosis

Definition of Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a curving of the spine. The spine curves away from the middle or sideways.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

There are three general causes of scoliosis:

Symptoms

A doctor may suspect scoliosis if one shoulder appears to be higher than the other, or the pelvis appears to be tilted. Untrained observers often do not notice the curving in the earlier stages.

Signs and tests

The health care provider will perform a physical exam, which includes a forward bending test that will help the doctor define the curve. The degree of curve seen on an exam may underestimate the actual curve seen on an x-ray, so any child found with a curve is likely to be referred for an x-ray. The health care provider will perform a neurologic exam to look for any changes in strength, sensation, or reflexes.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the cause of the scoliosis, the size and location of the curve, and how much more growing the patient is expected to do. Most cases of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (less than 20 degrees) require no treatment, but should be checked often, about every 6 months.

Expectations (prognosis)

The outcome depends on the cause, location, and severity of the curve. The greater the curve, the greater the chance the curve will get worse after growth has stopped.

Review

David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.., and C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Dept of Orthopaedic Surgery. – 9/17/2009

Scoliosis
Skeletal spine
Scoliosis
Spinal curves
Forward bend test
Signs of scoliosis
Scoliosis brace
Spinal fusion

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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