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Scoliosis is the abnormal sideways curvature of the spine, typically occurring in an S or C shape. If this curve becomes severe enough, it can be disabling, causing pain and/or making breathing difficult, among other symptoms. The majority of cases are mild and can usually be controlled when diagnosed early enough.

There are several types of scoliosis, which are characterized by their unique causes. These include:

  • Idiopathic – The most common form of the condition, this term refers to scoliosis where an exact cause is unknown. Eighty percent of these cases occur in adolescents between the ages of 10 to 18, when growth spurts occur rapidly.
  • Congenital – Caused by malformed vertebrae, this type of scoliosis presents at birth and generally must be corrected surgically.
  • Neuromuscular – Sometimes called myopathic scoliosis, this occurs due to a neuromuscular condition, such as cerebral palsy. It can be treated through methods such as spinal bracing or physical therapy.
  • Degenerative – Occurring during adulthood as the degeneration of the spine’s facet joints forces the spine to curve to one side, this condition most often affects people over the age of 65.

The best way to combat this condition begins with early detection, especially in instances of idiopathic scoliosis among children. Regular screenings should be conducted during childhood and adolescence to look for signs of the condition. Someone with scoliosis may:

  • Have one shoulder blade that protrudes more than the other
  • Have uneven shoulders or hips
  • Lean to one side

If you have noticed one or more of these signs in your child or yourself, it is important to schedule an appointment with a physician who can conduct tests in order to provide an accurate diagnosis. Tampa General Hospital has physicians and surgeons on staff who are dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of scoliosis.