Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine curves sideways. It’s a relatively common condition in children and teens, affecting about three percent of kids. School screenings and regular checkups starting around age 10 can help catch scoliosis early.
At Dignity Health Mercy Medical Center, experienced doctors provide a wide array of advanced treatments to manage and correct scoliosis. If you would like to find a spine specialist or schedule a consultation, please use our Find a Doctor tool.
Causes of scoliosis
The most common form of scoliosis (about 80 to 85 percent) is idiopathic scoliosis. “Idiopathic” means the exact cause of it is unknown. However, doctors do know that it tends to run in families, no specific activity causes it, and there is nothing you could have done to prevent it. Other forms of scoliosis include congenital scoliosis due to a birth defect and neuromuscular scoliosis from conditions such as muscular dystrophy.
Symptoms of scoliosis
Small curves may not cause any symptoms and scoliosis rarely causes pain. As children grow, signs and symptoms include:
- One hip sitting higher than the other
- One shoulder blade sticking out farther than the other
- Ribs sticking out farther on one side
- Uneven shoulders
Scoliosis treatment at Dignity Health
The trusted treatment options we recommend depend on the size of the curvature and the age of the patient. Small curves may not require treatment. Our professionals may recommend back bracing for more prominent curves. A back brace will not straighten the spine, but it can prevent the curve from getting worse.
Very large curves — 45° to 50° or greater — or curves that continue to increase despite bracing may require spinal fusion surgery. Talk with your doctor at Dignity Health about surgery for scoliosis, as it may help prevent complications such as changes in lung function.