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.