Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine and a condition known as “idiopathic scoliosis” is most common in young adolescents. This form of scoliosis sometimes progresses slowly and may not be detected until a person is an adult. Scoliosis has a genetic component and frequently runs in families. Certain neuromuscular disorders such as muscular dystrophy can also cause scoliosis. Additionally, asymmetric degeneration of the discs between vertebrae can cause scoliosis, particularly in adults.
A typical spine, viewed from the side, has an elongated S-shape with the upper back curved outward and the lower back curved inward. The principal symptom of scoliosis is an abnormal curvature viewed from behind, most frequently in the upper back. One hip may be higher than the other, the shoulders and hips may be uneven, and one shoulder blade frequently appears more prominent than the other. The spine may also be rotated in from its normal position, causing the ribs on one side to be more prominent. Extensive curvature may cause back pain, breathing problems, and severe deformity.
The cause of idiopathic scoliosis is unknown, but a family history of scoliosis increases the risk. Adult onset scoliosis is typically caused by asymmetric disc degeneration where one side of the spine experiences degenerative conditions more than the other.
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