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Understanding Scoliosis: Symptoms, Causes, and Comprehensive Treatment Options

scoliosis causesDid you know that 2% of the population suffers from scoliosis and that it affects babies in the womb as much as the elderly? Most of the time, doctors aren’t able to tell what the cause is. Frustrating right? But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any treatments. Let’s take a look at what it is, the different types of scoliosis, the symptoms, and the treatment options available!

What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is when the spine does not curve in the natural position it’s supposed to; instead, it has a curvature that resembles a C or S, and doctors often use this to explain the direction of the curve. It can diagnosed if the spine’s curve measures more than 10 degrees in the wrong direction. A normal spine has a front-to-back posture, whereas the spine has a side-to-side in people with scoliosis. This curvature can be mild or severe. Some cases don’t need treatment, while others need surgery. 

The 3 Different Types of Scoliosis

Types of Scoliosis
1. Idiopathic Scoliosis

The most common form of scoliosis is idiopathic; this means that the cause of the scoliosis cannot be identified. However, there has been confirmation that many cases can be caused by hereditary scoliosis. There are different names for idiopathetic scoliosis, depending on when it is discovered and diagnosed. 

Below are the different names that doctors refer to depending on the diagnosis:

  • Infantile Scoliosis (before 3 months old)
  • Juvenile Scoliosis (4 to 10 years old)
  • Adolescent Scoliosis (11 to 18 years old)
  • Adult Idiopathetic Scoliosis (After 18 years old)

2. Congenital Scoliosis

This form of scoliosis occurs at birth and often results from an abnormality in the spine’s development during the fourth and sixth trimesters of pregnancy. It is a rare type of scoliosis; only 1 in 100,000 infants are born with this spine curvature. 

3. Neuromuscular Scoliosis

Spinal cord injuries, spina bifida, and cerebral palsy are common causes of neuromuscular scoliosis, the second most common type of scoliosis. These conditions can weaken or paralyze the muscles around the spine. 

Symptoms of Scoliosis

scoliosis symptomsThere are several different symptoms and signs of scoliosis that should not be ignored; they are:

  • Finding it hard to stand up straight
  • Backache and pains
  • Leg numbness, pain, or weakness
  • Weakening of core muscles
  • Uneven waist and hips
  • Uneven shoulders or one shoulder drooping
  • One leg is shorter than the other
  • The head is not centered on the body
  • Leaning to one side
  • Skin changes around the spine (discoloration, dimples, and dry patches)
  • Shoulder blades protrude

Causes and Diagnosis of Scoliosis

Even though doctors and medical professionals often cannot determine a cause, some considerations can result in scoliosis. 

Here are 5 possible causes of developing scoliosis:

  1. A spinal tumor
  2. Changes in genetics
  3. Abnormal development in the womb
  4. Muscle or nerve conditions
  5. Spinal cord injury

Diagnosing Scoliosis

Doctors often diagnose scoliosis through a physical exam, which entails movements like bending down and touching their toes. These movements help the doctor determine how the spine moves and functions. The doctor will also check the patient’s nerves and muscles by doing tests such as monitoring reflexes and strength.

Below are common questions that medical professionals may ask to help with diagnosis:

  • When did the symptoms start?
  • What is your family medical history?
  • Do you have any other important symptoms, like motor problems, bladder issues, or numbness?  

Treatment Options for Scoliosis

When it comes to treating scoliosis, doctors will consider a few things, like the severity of the curve, age, and the type of scoliosis. Mild cases often need minimal treatments to help with symptoms, prevent further curvature, and help the spine function properly. However, in more severe cases, some medical intervention, like surgery, may be needed.

scoliosis treatmentFor the cases that don’t involve surgery, treatments may include:

  • Exercises to help strengthen back and core muscles, check-ups to monitor the spinal curving, wearing back support like a brace, over-the-counter pain medication, keeping contributing conditions in check, and visiting a physical therapist.


Scoliosis affects millions and can be disabling. Although treatments may not rectify the spine, it can prevent further complications and relieve some of the symptoms. Don’t overlook the signs and symptoms. If you are experiencing any discomfort and changes in your posture, contact a healthcare professional – even if it’s just a call. Rather be safe than sorry!

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