What is scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a condition usually diagnosed in prepubescent children, in which the spine curves sideways during growth. Although it is not always possible to pin scoliosis on a specific cause, it is sometimes attributed to conditions like muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, and unusually rapid growth. Scoliosis tends to run in families, suggesting a hereditary link.

The severity of scoliosis varies widely from one person to the next. Most cases are mild enough to not cause lifestyle challenges or to require surgery. Sometimes, though, scoliosis can be severe enough to impede mobility, flexibility and the functioning of the internal organs.


What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of scoliosis include the following:

  • One shoulder appears to be higher or more prominent than the other
  • One hip appears to be higher than the other
  • The body looks misaligned, as if the waist or chest are not level
  • The ribs on one side of the body protrude more than those on the other side


What are the risks of scoliosis?

In most children, scoliosis does not result in any health risks or complications. However, in some cases, scoliosis can lead to the following complications:

  • Altered appearance: Severe curvature of the spine can result in the shoulders or hips being uneven and the body appearing to be out of alignment. In some cases, the spine will twist in addition to curving, resulting in the ribs being more prominent or uneven.
  • Back problems: Children with scoliosis are more likely to experience chronic back pain as adults
  • Damage to the heart and lungs: If twisting of the spine causes the ribs to rotate, they can press against the lungs and heart, resulting in impaired breathing and cardiac function.

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