What is Scoliosis ?


Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the backbone (spine ). In the majority of cases,  the cause of this curvature is unknown. In general, girls have a higher risk of developing scoliosis than boys do.However,  there are cases where the curvature is due to a person having muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy. Other causes of scoliosis include birth defects, heredity, and spinal injuries. Not all abnormal spinal curvatures are considered scoliosis. A non-structural deformity can be due to one leg being longer than the other.

Many cases of scoliosis are considered to be mild and other than the spine having an abnormal sideways curvature, there is little impact on the body’s ability to function properly. In serious, the curvature of the spine may be so severe that it affects the chest cavity and causes problems with lung function.  It may also affect the heart’s ability to function properly.

Symptoms of scoliosis:
• Hips that are uneven
• Uneven shoulders
• Uneven waist
• Back pain
• One shoulder blade that protrudes more than the other

In severe cases the ribs on one side of the body may protrude more than the other side
In order to diagnose scoliosis a physician will perform a physical exam that includes visualizing the patient’s posture, taking a family history, performing a neurological exam to check for muscle weakness, numbness, and abnormal reflexes. A series of x-rays will also be taken to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment of scoliosis is determined by the severity of the abnormal spinal curvature, the age of the patient, the location of the curvature, and whether or not the curvature is “C” shaped or a “double S “. In many cases no treatment will be required, only careful monitoring to see if the condition worsens over time. In cases that are moderate a brace may be prescribed to prevent the worsening of the condition. Severe cases of scoliosis may require surgical intervention. This procedure involves fusion of two or more vertebrae and the use of either rods, plates and screws to hold the spine in place.

If you think that your child may have an abnormal curvature of the spine, speak with your pediatrician about an evaluation. To schedule an appointment with a pediatrician at Jamaica Hospital, please call 718-206-7001.


All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.