The cause of most cases is unknown, but is believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Risk factors include other affected family members. It can also occur due to another condition such as muscles spasms, cerebral palsy, Marfan syndrome, and tumors such as neurofibromatosis. Diagnosis is confirmed with X-rays. Scoliosis is typically classified as either structural in which the curve is fixed, or functional in which the underlying spine is normal.
Treatment depends on the degree of curve, location, and cause. Minor curves may simply be watched periodically. Treatments may include bracing or surgery. The brace must be fitted to the person and used daily until growing stops. Evidence that chiropractic manipulation, dietary supplements, or exercises can prevent the condition from worsening is lacking. However, exercise is still recommended due to its other health benefits.
Scoliosis occurs in about 3% of people. It most commonly occurs between the ages of 10 and 20. Girls typically are more severely affected than boys. The term is from Ancient Greek: σκολίωσις, translit. skoliosis which means "a bending".
Symptoms associated with scoliosis can include:
The signs of scoliosis can include:
People who have reached skeletal maturity are less likely to have a worsening case. Some severe cases of scoliosis can lead to diminishing lung capacity, pressure exerted on the heart, and restricted physical activities.
Recent longitudinal studies reveal that the most common form of the condition, late-onset idiopathic scoliosis, causes little physical impairment other than back pain and cosmetic concerns, even when untreated, with mortality rates similar to the general population. Older beliefs that untreated idiopathic scoliosis necessarily progresses into severe (cardiopulmonary) disability by old age have been refuted by later studies.