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Scoliosis is the condition in which the spine curves to the side an abnormal amount. A normal spine will have natural curves that make the lower back curve inwards and the shoulders rounded, keeping your centre of balance in a sensible place, and it may also have slight lateral curves. It is only when these lateral curves are quite exaggerated is it scoliosis.

Forms of scoliosis

  • Lumbar scoliosis: A curve in the lower (lumbar) spine. This means the pelvis may be a little uneven, resulting in a person appearing lopsided.**
  • Thoracic scoliosis: A curve in the upper (thoracic) spine. This distorts the rib cage, making the shoulders uneven or a rib or shoulder blade to be prominent. **
  • Compensatory scoliosis: Two curves - resulting in an S-shaped spine rather than a C-shaped spine. This kind of scoliosis means that one curve compensates for the other - and so if the two curves are equal, the person's shoulders will be level over their hips and they will be able to stand up straight, making the malformation less obvious.
  • Neuromuscular scoliosos: A compound disorder of both a curvature of the spine and another disorder of the neurological system, for example, cerebral palsy, and muscular dystrophy. This is common in children, and is a degenerative condition: as the affected child grows older, the trunk of the spine weakens, causing a deterioration in condition, the rate of progression of curve being directly proportional to the child's rate of growth. This progression tends to be in the form of an elongated, C-shaped curve.

Who develops it?

Scoliosis most commonly develops in girls at the onset of puberty, but it occurs in boys as well. It can be seen in babies and this can be a problem (see below). However, it can develop in anyone. **

What causes it?

Most cases of scoliosis are idiopathic - which means the cause is unknown. It can tend to be hereditary - if you have scoliosis, it is probable that one of your family has it, even if only mildly. **Neuromuscular problems, accidents**

Measuring scoliosis - the Cobb method

Effects of scoliosis

In most cases, scoliosis does not affect the person at all, and prove to be no restriction on their life. Sometimes, however, scoliosis can be painful, but this is very rare. ** If the scoliosis is still developing, it should be checked regularly by a doctor because there is the chance that the spine could curve so much that it crushes internal organs. In this case, surgery will be needed.


How can I tell if I have scoliosis?

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