About two per­cent of peo­ple are affect­ed by this defor­ma­tion of the spine, which caus­es the nor­mal­ly straight spine to curve. While sco­l­io­sis can run in fam­i­lies, in most cas­es its cause is unknown. It fre­quent­ly devel­ops before puber­ty and goes unno­ticed because it often caus­es no pain. In adults, sco­l­io­sis may devel­op due to wors­en­ing of a slight cur­va­ture from child­hood, or it could be caused by degen­er­a­tive dis­eases of the spine such as kypho­sis or osteoporosis.

Sco­l­io­sis can lim­it a per­son­’s abil­i­ty to move nor­mal­ly. It can also bring on pain and reduced abil­i­ty to breathe if a mis­shapen rib cage restricts nor­mal lung growth.

Warn­ing signs include uneven shoul­ders, a pro­tru­sion of one or both shoul­der blades, an uneven waist or an ele­vat­ed hip. A per­son expe­ri­enc­ing any of these symp­toms should see a physi­cian for an accu­rate diagnosis.

Most peo­ple with sco­l­io­sis don’t need treat­ment. Ear­ly detec­tion is impor­tant, because med­ical obser­va­tion is need­ed dur­ing the grow­ing years to make sure the curve does­n’t wors­en. If inter­ven­tion is need­ed, an ortho­pe­dic brace may pre­vent fur­ther cur­va­ture. In some cas­es, spinal fusion surgery may be need­ed to straight­en and sta­bi­lize the spine.