What is it?
Scoliosis is an abnormal curving of the spine that may occur during adolescence. This occurs 8 times more frequently among girls than among boys, but the reasons for this difference are not clear. The cause of scoliosis is also unknown, although it may be caused by several things, including weakness of the muscles that support the spinal column, abnormalities of the vertebrae (the bones in the spine), and inherited birth defects. The spinal curvature tends to be noticed by the growing girl or her mother because of a high shoulder or hip. Many schools also have screening examinations that may catch scoliosis.

Usually, the spine curves backward in the upper back and inward in the lower back. In scoliosis, the spine will also have a side-to-side curve that is not normal. In most cases, this will occur while the girl is still growing. In severe cases, treatment includes body braces or surgery. Body brace treatment is usually started before the end of growth to prevent permanent deformities or breathing problems. Surgery is usually performed near the end of growth to prevent growth retardation and consequent shortness. Women with scoliosis are also more likely to develop osteoporosis later in life than are women without scoliosis.

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