Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine often beginning in childhood. Symptoms of scoliosis include one shoulder or shoulder blade protruding more than the other, unevenness of the rib cage, waist, hips or legs. Scoliosis can have developmental, degenerative or congenital causes.
Degenerative scoliosis occurs as a result of age from degenerative disc disease, osteoporosis, spinal stenosis or vertebral compression. These conditions cause the spine to curve to either the left or right and unlike idiopathic scoliosis, can produce pain. It can also produce a host of other problems including humpback, spinal instability, nerve damage, rib prominence, difficulty sitting or standing and heart and lung problems.
Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common form of scoliosis and is encountered mainly in adolescents. Screening for idiopathic scoliosis is routinely done in elementary schools by medical professionals using the Adam’s forward bend test, and if found to be abnormal, followed by referral to a physician for imaging and further evaluation. Growth spurts encountered in puberty often cause progression of the abnormal curvature. Treatment of scoliosis is necessary more often in girls than boys, as their spinal curvature is more likely to progress. Treatments include bracing and possible surgery to reduce the spinal curvature.