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Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine develops a side-to-side curve in an S- or C-shape. It can occur in both children and adults.

Scoliosis: what you should know

  • In children, scoliosis often does not cause any symptoms (such as pain) other than the curve in the spine.
  • Scoliosis in adults can either result from an existing scoliosis from childhood or develop as you age (known as degenerative scoliosis). In adults, the most common scoliosis symptom is pain.  
  • In functional scoliosis, muscle spasms, inflammation or different leg lengths can cause spine curvature. In these cases, the curvature can go away, or resolve, if the underlying problem is addressed.
  • For children and adults, scoliosis surgery is typically regarded as the last option after other nonsurgical approaches have been tried.

How can I get help for scoliosis?

For adults: Call your primary care doctor if your pain is not relieved by rest, ice or heat, or over-the-counter medication within a couple weeks.

For children: Contact your pediatrician or visit a scoliosis specialist if your child has any of the following:

  • A curve in the back
  • The appearance that he or she is leaning to one side
  • Shoulders, shoulder blades and hips that seem uneven
  • The appearance of a rib hump on one side when you look at the back

Departments and programs that treat this condition