Medical Specialties: Family practice, Orthopedics, Pediatrics

Clinical Definition

Scoliosis is a deviation from the normal, vertical and straight line of the vertebral column. It causes an abnormal rotational and lateral curvature of the spine. Although the etiology may be neuromuscular, it is often idiopathic in nature. The condition may be progressive or remain the same. Scoliosis is considered if the curvature measures 10 degrees or greater on X-ray. 

In Our Own Words

Typically, the back’s vertebrae are stacked on top of each other. If the spine is viewed from the back, the vertebrae should be in a straight line from the neck to the tailbone. Scoliosis is a medical condition in which the spine has an abnormal sideways curve. It can be caused by conditions, such as muscular dystrophy and other neuromuscular conditions, but usually the cause is unknown.  Sometimes, people with scoliosis are shorter than they would normally be because of the sideways curvature. The curvature can also cause the shoulders and hips to become uneven.

Side Effects
  • Low back pain
  • Uneven shoulders and hips
  • Spine curves to one side
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  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. “Introduction to Scoliosis.” Updated March 2011. Accessed September 2013.
  • University of Maryland Medical Center. "Scoliosis.” Updated September 2013. Accessed September 2013.
  • Boston Children’s Hospital. “Scoliosis.” Accessed September 2013.
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