What Is the Main Cause of Scoliosis?

Medically Reviewed on 9/15/2020

Scoliosis is an abnormality of the spine in which the spine curves abnormally to the side
Scoliosis is an abnormality of the spine in which the spine curves abnormally to the side

Scoliosis is an abnormality of the spine in which the spine curves abnormally to the side (laterally).

In almost 80% of cases, the cause of scoliosis is unknown. This type of scoliosis is known as idiopathic scoliosis and is most common in adolescent girls.

Idiopathic scoliosis is of three types:

  1. Infantile idiopathic scoliosis: Scoliosis that develops in children less than three years of age 
  2. Juvenile idiopathic scoliosis: Scoliosis that develops between 3 and 10 years of age
  3. Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis: Scoliosis that is found in children between  11 and 18 years of age

The other causes of scoliosis include:

Shortness of one of the legs

Carrying unequal heavyweights with both hands

Muscle spasms in the back

Congenital (Occurring from birth):

Degenerative changes (wear and tear of the spine): Found in older adults, the wear and tear can be due to osteoporosis or vertebra (spine bone) fractures.

Spine tumors such as osteoid osteoma: Pain caused by the pressure of the tumor on one side of the spine can force the person to lean on the other side, leading to scoliosis.

Genetics (hereditary muscle disorders): The defective gene for scoliosis can be passed down onto you by your parents. Approximately 30% of adolescents with scoliosis have a family history of scoliosis.

Injury to the spine

Infection of the spine

How does scoliosis affect the body?

The curves in scoliosis make the spine look more like the letter "C" or "S” instead of a straight line down the middle of the back. They occur most commonly in the upper and middle back (thoracic spine) but can also develop in the lower back.

Scoliosis results in an abnormal posture, and hence, it can be of cosmetic concern for people who are affected by it. Otherwise, mild scoliosis is not bothering to many. If scoliosis is severe and untreated, it can give rise to other problems that include:

  • Stiffness or soreness of the back after sitting or standing for prolonged periods
  • Tingling or numbness in the legs
  • Permanent, noticeable deformities
  • Difficulty in breathing (severe deformity can put pressure on and damage the lungs)
  • A pelvis that thrusts forward on one side

Can scoliosis get worse as you age?

 Several factors can worsen scoliosis. These include:

  • The severity of the curve: More severe the curve, the higher the chances of its worsening.
  • Pubertal age: Curves tend to worsen in the early stages of puberty in children affected with scoliosis.
  • Increase in symptoms: More is the development of symptoms, the more are the chances that scoliosis will worsen.

Degenerative changes of the spine (spondylitis and osteoporosis) that appear commonly with aging can worsen scoliosis by increasing the curve and the symptoms.

In most children with scoliosis, the curvature stays as it is and does not progress further. However, follow-up with a doctor is vital to ascertain the status of scoliosis. Earlier treatment can help prevent the development of a permanent deformity.

QUESTION

What percentage of the human body is water? See Answer

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Medically Reviewed on 9/15/2020
References
Idiopathic Scoliosis. Available at: https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1265794

Idiopathic Scoliosis in Children and Adolescents. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/idiopathic-scoliosis-in-children-and-adolescents/

Scoliosis. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/scoliosis-a-to-z