Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine, or backbone. Instead of a straight vertical line from the neck to the buttocks, the spine has a C- or S-shape.
Types of scoliosis include:
Structural—curvature with spinal deformity:
- Functional—curvature without spinal deformity
Scoliosis may also be described as infantile, juvenile, or adolescent based on the child's age at onset.
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The different types of scoliosis have different causes.
Structural scoliosis—classified by the cause of the vertebral body defect:
- Congenital—defect occurs during fetal development
- Syndromic—defect occurs as a result of an underlying health condition that affects the nerves, muscles, or bones in the back and spine
- Idiopathic—defect occurs without a specific cause, but is likely due to a combination of multiple genetic factors
Functional scoliosis may be caused by:
- Muscle imbalances
- Differing leg lengths
- Conditions that cause muscles to remain tense and spasm
In some cases, scoliosis may be caused by damage to the vertebral body from:
Last reviewedDecember 2014by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.