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
This condition of side-to-side spinal curves is called “scoliosis”. On an x-ray, the spine of a person with scoliosis looks more like an “S” or a “C” than a straight line. These curves can make the person’s shoulders or waist appear uneven. Some of these bones may also be rotated slightly, making one shoulder blade more prominent than the other.
Scoliosis is a descriptive term and not a diagnosis. In more than 80% of cases, a specific cause is not known. Such cases are termed “idiopathic”, meaning “of undetermined cause”. This is particularly common in adolescent girls. Idiopathic scoliosis is typically called “infantile” in children 0-3 years old, “juvenile” in children 4-10 years old, “adolescent” in adolescents 11-18 years old, and “adult” in patients over 18 years old. Conditions known to cause spinal deformity are congenital spinal column abnormalities (present at birth – called congenital scoliosis), neurologic disorders (neuromuscular scoliosis), genetic conditions, and many other causes. Scoliosis does not come from carrying heavy things, athletic involvement, sleeping/standing postures, or minor leg length abnormalities.
Do I Have Scoliosis?
Determining whether or not you have scoliosis is best done by a physician who performs a physical examination of your back. The examination is done with you standing in a relaxed position with your arms at your sides. The physician will view you from behind looking for curvature of the spine, shoulder blade asymmetry, waistline asymmetry and any trunk shift. You will then bend forward at the waist and the physician will view your back once again to look for the rotational aspect of the scoliosis in the upper part of the back (rib prominence) or in the lower part of your back (flank or waist prominence). Following this simple examination, the physician will usually initial radiographs of the spine viewed from the back and the side to see the entire spine from the neck to the pelvis. If scoliosis is present, the physician will measure the radiographs and provide you with a numerical value, in degrees, to help describe the scoliosis.
What Are My Treatment Options?