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What is it?

Scoliosis (sko-lee-o-sis) is a disorder that causes the spine (back) to curve sideways. It is usually painless. There may also be a disease of the spine or nerves if there is back pain with scoliosis. Scoliosis often starts as a child between the ages of 8 and 10 but may not be noticed until the teenage years. It is most common in teenage girls.


In most cases, the cause of scoliosis is unknown. You may have scoliosis if someone in your family had it also. A birth defect of your spine or polio may cause scoliosis. Poor posture or having one leg longer than the other can also cause it.

Signs or Symptoms:

Usually, there are no signs of scoliosis in its early stages. The back may become S-shaped. The ribs or hips may stick out more on one side than the other if the spine is very crooked. One shoulder may be lower than the other. Other signs are a sunken chest, rounded shoulders, and swayback. When found early, it can be treated with exercises or a special back brace. There may not be enough room in your chest for your heart and lungs to work well if the curve in your spine is very bad.


Often no treatment is needed because the curve in the spine is so small that it causes no problems. Your caregivers will check you regularly to make sure the curve is not getting worse. You may need x-rays to help show the curve in your spine. You may need physical (fizz-ih-kull) therapy (th-air-uh-p) to strengthen your back muscles. Your caregivers may suggest you wear a back brace or a shoe lift. If your scoliosis is very bad you may need surgery. Caregivers may order special tests of the kidney or heart if scoliosis is found at birth.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Learn more about Scoliosis

Associated drugs

Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.