Scoliosis as defined by the Scoliosis Research Society is a “lateral deviation of the spine by more than 10 degrees”. It is more than this, it is a three dimensional deformity in which the spine is bent to the side as one looks from back to front, and twisted when viewed from above. The spine of an individual with scoliosis may look more like an “S” or a “C”, rather than a straight line.
- Congenital (caused by vertebral anomalies present at birth)
- Idiopathic(cause unknown, subclassified as infantile, juvenile, adolescent, or adult, according to when onset occurred)
- Neuromuscular (having developed as a secondary symptom of another condition, such as Spina bifida, Cerebral Palsy,Spinal Muscular Atrophy, or physical trauma. )
Other Spinal Deformities: Two other types of spinal curvature are (swayback) and kyphosis (roundback). Sometimes people generalize and refer to these conditions as scoliosis, but they have unique characteristics. Scoliosis is a sideways curve of the spine; lordosis is a forward curve of the spine; and kyphosis is a hump-like, backward curve of the spine. With physical examination, medical history, X-ray, and curve measurement, a doctor can determine what type of curvature a person has and how to proceed with treatment.
- Curvature of 10 degrees or less: This slight curvature is considered to be within a normal range, making treatment unnecessary.
- Curvature between 10 degrees and 20 degrees: These curvatures may warrant monitoring by a physician. If the patient is in his or her growing years, the curvature could become more severe over time. No additional follow-up is need for patients in this range when skeletal growth is complete.
- Curvature between 20 degrees and 45 degrees: Wearing an orthotic brace can stop the progression of the curvature, but not cure it.
- Curvature exceeding 45 degrees: Surgery is the recommended treatment for curvature of this severity.