What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a side-to-side curvature in the spine that can cause pain and deformities in the back. Scoliosis often occurs during growth spurts in youth and adolescence, but may also be a result of other conditions affecting bone growth, such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy.

In many cases, scoliosis may not cause any problems and may even go unnoticed. In more severe situations, scoliosis can be disabling, causing problems including lung function and mobility.

One scoliosis is detected in your child or teenager, your physician will monitor the condition regularly to determine if intervention is needed to prevent serious complications.


Symptoms of scoliosis depend on its severity, with common signs including:

  • Uneven hips, waist, and shoulders
  • Lopsided ribs or shoulder blades
  • Obvious curvature in the spine

When to See a Doctor

If you notice symptoms of scoliosis or a noticeable curvature you should make an appointment to see your doctor.


Causes of scoliosis remain mostly unknown, although heredity and other conditions, such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy, may play a part. Females are more likely to develop scoliosis than males.

Diagnosis and Tests

Scoliosis can usually be easily detected through a simple physical examination, where the clinician will ask you to bend forward at the waist. This better shows each vertebrae in the spine, making it easier to tell if there is a noticeable curve.

Your doctor may also request additional tests to confirm a scoliosis diagnosis, including:


Treatment for scoliosis depends on the age and severity of the patient. Common treatments include:


Scoliosis may not always be preventable, but there are a few activities you can encourage in your children to help prevent a scoliosis diagnosis:

  • Diet rich in vitamin D and calcium to support strong bones
  • Exercise to help build strong back muscles

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This medical information is provided by Intermountain Healthcare. It has not been developed to replace medical advice provided by your health care provider.