Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature in the spine, often in the shape of a "C" or "S."
Signs of scoliosis usually appear between the ages of 10 and 14, just before the onset of puberty.
Someone with too much spinal curvature will usually have uneven hips or shoulders (one side is higher than the other) or one shoulder blade that sticks out farther than the other.
Usually, the cause of scoliosis is unknown and occurs in otherwise healthy kids and adolescents. But it also can affect those with conditions such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy. Scoliosis tends to run in families, and girls are much more likely to develop severe cases.
Most of the time, scoliosis is mild enough that it doesn't interfere with everyday life and can be left untreated. In some cases, doctors will have someone with scoliosis wear a back brace.
If the curve gets severe, it can be visible and cause discomfort. It can also lead to other health problems, possibly affecting the lungs, heart, and joints. In these instances, surgery can correct the problem.
Most cases of scoliosis don't require treatment, but even when they do, kids and teens usually can resume an active life after treatment.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
|Pocket Doc Mobile App|
|Maps and Locations (Mobile)|
|Programs & Services|
|For Health Professionals|
|For Patients & Families|
|Find a Doctor|