Large double curve scoliosis.

What is scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a twisting and sideways curvature of the spine which makes the spine appear more like an “S” or a “C” than a straight line.  On a back to front x-ray of the spine the curve would measure more than 10 degrees.  Scoliosis can make a person’s waist or shoulders appear uneven and the person might appear as if they have a one sided “hump” on their back when bending over.

When can scoliosis occur?

Scoliosis can occur at any age, but most commonly presents around 10 years of age, just at the start of most adolescents’ growth spurt (hence the name Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis).  Approximate 2%-3% of adolescents have some degree of scoliosis.  Scoliosis is found in both boys and girls however, the majority of progressive curves are seen in healthy adolescent girls and nearly 30% of people with scoliosis come from a family with a history of scoliosis.

Are there different types of scoliosis?

There are 4 types of scoliosis.

  1. Idiopathic scoliosis – 80% of all scoliosis falls under this category. Idiopathic means “of unknown origin” and depending on the age of onset, it may be called infantile (birth to 3 years), juvenile (age 3 to 10 years), adolescent (age 11 to 18 years) or adult scoliosis (after age 18).
  2. Congenital scoliosis – This type of scoliosis is rare.  It’s when one or more of the bones (vertebrae) that make up the spine are poorly formed in utero resulting in a curvature of the spine which usually becomes noticeable when the infant begins to sit up.
  3. Neuromuscular scoliosis – This type of scoliosis occurs in people who have nerve or muscle control issues.  These individuals typically have other conditions such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, or have had a spinal cord injury.
  4. Syndrome associated scoliosis – This scoliosis may be one of many symptoms that occur in people with genetic conditions such as Marfan’s syndrome, Neurofibromatosis or Down’s syndrome.