Scoliosis is a medical condition in which a person's spine has a sideways curve. The curve is usually "S" or "C" shaped. In some the degree of curve is stable while in others it increases over time. Mild scoliosis does not typically cause problems while severe cases can interfere with breathing. Pain is often not present.
The cause of most cases is unknown but believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Risk factors include other affected family members. It can also occur due to another condition such as muscles spasms, cerebral palsy, Marfan syndrome, and tumors such as neurofibromatosis. Diagnosis is confirmed with plain X-rays. Scoliosis is typically classified as either structural in which the curve is fixed or functional in which the underlying spine is normal.
Treatment depends on the degree of curve, location, and cause. Minor curves may simply be watched periodically. Treatments may include bracing or surgery. The brace must be fitted to the person and used daily until growing stops. Evidence for chiropractic manipulation, dietary supplements, and exercises to prevent worsening is lacking. Exercise; however, is still recommended due to its other benefits.
Scoliosis occurs in about 3% of people. It most commonly occurs between the ages of ten and twenty. Girls typically are more severely affected than boys. The term is from Ancient Greek: σκολίωσις, translit. skoliosis which means "a bending".