A deformity of the spine, scoliosis affects about two percent of the population. This condition causes a normally straight spine to curve. See the illustrations.
Scoliosis can limit your ability to move normally. If it’s severe enough, it can cause pain. A misshapen rib cage can restrict normal lung growth and your ability to breathe.
Warning signs include uneven shoulders, a protrusion of one or both shoulder blades, an uneven waist or an elevated hip. Refer to the illustration. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should see a physician for an accurate diagnosis.
Causes of Scoliosis
While scoliosis can run in families, in most cases, its cause is unknown. It frequently develops before puberty and goes unnoticed because it often causes no pain. In adults, scoliosis may develop due to worsening of a slight curvature from childhood. It can also be caused by degenerative diseases of the spine such as kyphosis or osteoporosis.
Most people with scoliosis don’t need treatment. Early detection is important, because medical observation during the growing years can help ensure that the curve doesn’t worsen.
If you do need intervention, an orthopedic back brace may prevent further curvature. In more extreme cases, a back doctor may recommend spinal fusion surgery to straighten and stabilize your spine.