What Is Adolescent Scoliosis?
A certain degree of curvature is normal in the human spine. For example, the gentle inward and outward curves of the neck, upper back and lower back are necessary for keeping the body properly balanced and aligned over the pelvis. When viewed from the back, the vertebrae of a healthy spine should form a straight line. In someone with scoliosis, however, the spine looks more like an “S” or a “C” than an “I”. The vertebrae involved in the curve also may rotate to some degree, which can further contribute to the appearance of an uneven waist or shoulders.
Scoliosis affects 2% of females and 0.5% of males in the general population. There are many causes of scoliosis, including congenital spine deformities, genetic conditions, neuromuscular problems and limb length inequality. Other causes for scoliosis include cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy and tumors. More than 80% of scoliosis cases, however, are idiopathic, which means there is no known cause, and the person may otherwise be healthy. People with a family history of spinal deformity are at greater risk for developing scoliosis. Early detection is essential!
Idiopathic scoliosis may be broken down into four categories based on age:
- Infantile – children age 3 and under
- Juvenile – children age 3-9 years old
- Adolescent – children and young people age 10-18 years old
- Adult – following skeletal maturity
The most common form of scoliosis, representing approximately 80% of idiopathic scoliosis cases, is adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS), which develops in young adults around the onset of puberty.