A sideways curvature of the spine.

Scoliosis is an abnormal, side to side curvature of the spine that occurs most often during the growth spurt just before puberty.

Scoliosis Facts & Information

Scoliosis is the term used to describe an irregular curvature of the spine. Instead of running in a nearly straight line down the center of the back, the spine may curve significantly to the side, resulting in a “C” or even an “S” shape. This curvature may worsen over time and ultimately cause muscle spasms, pain and even impact breathing.

Although the cause of scoliosis is unknown (idiopathic), it can run in families. Nearly 80 percent of all scoliosis diagnoses occur in adolescents. It seems to occur more often in girls than boys.

If scoliosis causes pain, the specialists at National Spine & Pain Centers may suggest minimally invasive interventional treatments to address muscle inflammation and/or spasms.



Because scoliosis is rarely accompanied by pain in its early stages, signs to watch for include:

-An irregular curvature of the spine to one side or the other
-A shoulder or hip that appears higher than the other
-Uneven shoulder blades, with one protruding more than the other
-The appearance of the head not being centered on the body
-Clothes that appear to hang unevenly on the body
-An awkward gait (caused by misaligned hips from the spinal curvature)


Thirty years ago, most adolescents were screened for scoliosis at school. Some schools still do this, and pediatricians normally assess for scoliosis during an annual physical. A simple visual test in which the child is asked to bend over usually reveals any abnormalities in the spinal curvature. If further diagnosis is needed, a special tool called a scoliometer can measure the degree of displacement. X-rays may also be taken.

Possible Treatments

Most cases of scoliosis are not severe and do not require treatment. The spinal specialists at National Spine & Pain Centers will assess your child every four to six months while they are still growing to ensure scoliosis does not get worse. If it becomes more severe, a back brace may be necessary until the bones are finished growing. In rare but severe cases, surgery may be necessary.