Scoliosis: Understanding the Causes

Scoliosis is a medical condition that affects the spine. It is characterized by an abnormal curvature of the spine in a sideways direction. Scoliosis can occur at any age, but it is most commonly found in children and adolescents. The severity of the condition can vary from person to person, ranging from mild to severe. In this article, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment of scoliosis. 

Causes of Scoliosis

There are various causes of scoliosis, and it can be broadly classified into two categories: idiopathic and non-idiopathic scoliosis. 

  • Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common type of scoliosis and accounts for about 80% of all cases. Idiopathic scoliosis occurs when there is no known cause for the abnormal curvature of the spine. It is usually detected during adolescence and affects more females than males. Idiopathic scoliosis can be further classified into three categories based on the age of onset: 
  • Infantile idiopathic scoliosis: This type of scoliosis occurs in children aged 0-3 years. 
  • Juvenile idiopathic scoliosis: This type of scoliosis occurs in children aged 4-10 years. 
  • Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis: This type of scoliosis occurs in children aged 11-18 years. 
  • Non-idiopathic scoliosis is less common and occurs due to underlying medical conditions or congenital abnormalities. Some of the common causes of non-idiopathic scoliosis are: 
  • Neuromuscular conditions such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and spina bifida. 
  • Connective tissue disorders such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and Marfan syndrome. 
  • Injuries to the spine or back. 
  • Tumors or infections of the spine. 

Symptoms of Scoliosis

The symptoms of scoliosis can vary from person to person. In some cases, scoliosis may not cause any symptoms, and the curvature of the spine may be detected during a routine medical examination. However, some of the common symptoms of scoliosis are: 

  • Uneven shoulders or hips. 
  • One shoulder blade that is more prominent than the other. 
  • Uneven waist or a tilted pelvis. 
  • Difficulty in standing up straight. 
  • Back pain or discomfort. 
  • Shortness of breath or chest pain in severe cases. 

Diagnosis of Scoliosis

Diagnosing scoliosis involves a physical examination, medical history, and imaging tests. During a physical examination, the doctor will look for any signs of abnormal curvature of the spine, uneven shoulders or hips, and a tilted pelvis. They may also ask the patient to bend forward to check for any humps or curves in the back. 

  • Medical history will help in identifying any underlying medical conditions that may be causing scoliosis. 
  • Imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI, or CT scans may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis and determine the severity of the curvature. 

Treatment of Scoliosis

The treatment of scoliosis depends on the severity of the condition and the age of the patient. Mild cases of scoliosis may not require any treatment and can be monitored with regular check-ups. However, severe cases of scoliosis may require treatment, which can include: 

  • Bracing: In some cases, a brace may be recommended to prevent the curvature from getting worse. Braces are usually worn for 16-23 hours a day, and the duration of wearing the brace can range from months to years. 
  • Surgery: In severe cases, surgery may be required to correct the curvature of the spine. The surgery involves the use of metal rods, screws, and hooks to straighten the spine. The recovery period after surgery can range from several weeks to months, and physical therapy may be required to aid in the healing process. 
  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy may be recommended to help improve posture, strengthen the back muscles, and increase flexibility. This can help alleviate pain and discomfort associated with scoliosis. 
  • Alternative therapies: Some people may benefit from alternative therapies such as chiropractic care, acupuncture, or massage therapy. However, it is important to consult with a medical professional before trying any alternative therapy. 

Prevention of Scoliosis

There is no known way to prevent scoliosis. However, early detection and treatment can help prevent the progression of the condition. Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider can help detect scoliosis early, especially in children and adolescents. 


Scoliosis is a medical condition that affects the spine, and it can cause varying degrees of curvature in the spine. While the exact cause of scoliosis is not always known, early detection and treatment can help prevent the progression of the condition. Treatment options for scoliosis include bracing, surgery, physical therapy, and alternative therapies. Regular check-ups with a healthcare provider can help in the early detection of scoliosis, and it is essential to seek medical advice if any symptoms are present. With proper treatment, people with scoliosis can live a normal, healthy life. 

About The Author

Dr. Krisca is a highly-educated and skilled physician who has obtained a BS Public Health degree from the University of the Philippines Manila and a Doctor of Medicine degree from the De La Salle Medical Health Sciences Institute. She is a licensed physician and also a Registered Medical Technologist. She has received additional training in Hemodialysis for Non-Nephro Physicians on duty and has completed online courses in related fields like depression in populations from John Hopkins University and positive psychiatry from The University of Sydney. Currently, she is pursuing a Master of International Health in the University of the Philippines. 


Dr. Krisca is known for her outstanding skills and compassionate approach to healthcare that make a positive impact on people’s lives. Through her passion for healthcare, she hopes to make a difference in the world and help people lead healthier, happier lives. 

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