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Guide to Scoliosis

What are the symptoms of Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a term used to describe an abnormal bending and twisting of the spine that occurs most often during the growth spurt just before puberty. Most cases of scoliosis are mild, but some spine deformities can continue to become severe. Severe scoliosis can be disabling as it can reduce the amount of space in the chest making breathing more difficult.

What are the symptoms of Scoliosis?

Signs and symptoms of scoliosis may include but are not limited to:

  • Shoulders that appear uneven
  • A waist that is uneven
  • Spinal curvature that is visible from behind (S-shaped spine)
  • A difference in leg length


What causes Scoliosis?

Scoliosis can develop at any time between birth and adulthood however is more common during times of bony growth (6-24months and 5-14 years). The cause of Scoliosis is still unknown but it may appear to involve hereditary factors as it tends to run in families.

How is Scoliosis diagnosed?

The diagnosis of scoliosis will be based on the presenting symptoms and the completion of a complete physical examination which will include, orthopaedic, neurological and range of motion assessments which will determine the severity of scoliosis and any problems it may be causing to the rest of the body. Plain X-rays can confirm the diagnosis of scoliosis and reveal the severity of the spinal curvature which your practitioner may recommend that is done.

What are some of the treatments for scoliosis?

The main goal of treatments is to stop the progression of the curve. Additional treatments are to improve postural aesthetics and manage any associated pain and breathing problems. In most cases, mild scoliosis cases don’t need treatment but may need regular check-ups to observe for any changes to the curvature in the spine as they grow.

Other treatment modalities will depend on the extent of curvature and may need a brace that is made from plastic and is contoured to conform to the patient’s body. These braces are usually worn day and night with the aim to limit curvature of the spine while the child is growing.


Praud Jaen-Paul, Canet E: Chest Wall Function and Dysfunction. In Kendig’s Disorders of the Respiratory Tract in Children. 7th edition. Edited by Chernick V, Boat TF, Wilmott RW, Bush A. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier; 2006:733-746.

Henderson JM, Rieger MA, Miller F, Kaelin A. Influence of parental age on degree of curvature in idiopathic scoliosis. The Journal of bone and joint surgery. American volume. 1990 Jul;72(6):910-3.

Lou E, Hill D, Raso J: Brace treatment for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Stud Health Technol Inform 2008, 135:265-273.

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