Scoliosis Research Society (SRS)
Scoliosis Research Society (SRS)
An International Organization Dedicated to the Education, Research and Treatment of Spinal Deformity
Our Mission is to Foster Optimal Care for All Patients with Spinal Deformities

What Causes Scoliosis?

Eighty-five percent of people with scoliosis have the "idiopathic" type. "Idiopathic" means "no known cause." However, the term is not quite accurate, as we actually know quite a bit about the cause and natural history of idiopathic scoliosis. Idiopathic scoliosis frequently runs in families and there is a growing body of evidence that genetics plays a major role. A genetic screening test, called the ScoliScore™ is available as an adjunct to clinical and x-ray information to determine risk of progression in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis. It is currently used in Caucasian (North American, European, Eastern European, Middle Eastern) patients between the ages of 9 and 13 years with a mild scoliotic curve (less than 25 degrees). The stated goal of the test is to determine the risk that the curve will increase to 40 degrees or more. Thus far independent verification of the test has not been done.

Idiopathic scoliosis may appear at any age but most often appears in early adolescence. At this age, young people are reluctant to allow their bodies to be seen by parents and other adults, and the problem may not be detected until it is quite severe. As a result, the Scoliosis Research Society and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons have endorsed school screening programs to detect scoliosis curves before they may become advanced and more difficult to treat.

Several less common types of scoliosis have a different cause. These curves may be due to abnormally formed vertebrae already present at birth ("congenital scoliosis"), disorders of the central nervous system such as cerebral palsy, muscle diseases such as muscular dystrophy, or genetic diseases such as Marfan's syndrome or Down syndrome. Scoliosis may also be seen following infections of the spine or fractures involving the spine.

Idiopathic Scoliosis