Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine. Normally, when looking at the spine it is in a straight line down the back however in scoliosis it curves to the right or left. Our spine has normal curvatures, for example in the lower back, but at these locations, the spine curves inward, not to the side.Most cases are mild and do not progress to the production of symptoms nor do they require treatment. This occurs in adolescents during growth spurts around the time of puberty and is particularly common in young girls. Starting around the fifth grade, most schools in the U.S. will begin annual screening of students for scoliosis.
Most often there are not any symptoms as the disease has a mild presentation in the majority of individuals. It is only when the curvature in the spine progresses that it may start to cause disfigurement and subsequent symptoms. The upper body starts to bend to one side along with the curving spine. This causes the shoulders to become uneven and protrusion of the shoulder blade. The rib cage on the same side will appear to bulge out giving the waist an irregular appearance. Similarly, the hips will not appear to be in line with each other and cause the legs to have unequal lengths. Patients in whom scoliosis progresses may also experience difficulty breathing as the lungs become compressed within an abnormally shaped rib cage. Patients also complain of chronic back pain.