What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a medical condition that causes an abnormal curvature of the spine. The Scoliosis Research Society (SRS) defines scoliosis as “a three-dimensional deformity of the spine, characterized by a lateral (side-to-side) curvature and rotation (twisting) of the vertebrae.” The SRS further elaborates that scoliosis is typically diagnosed when the curvature of the spine measures 10 degrees or greater on an X-ray.

What are the types of scoliosis?

  1. Idiopathic scoliosis: This is the most common type of scoliosis, accounting for around 80% of cases. Idiopathic scoliosis has no known cause and usually develops during adolescence.
  2. Congenital scoliosis: This type of scoliosis is present at birth and is caused by a malformation in the spine or vertebrae.
  3. Neuromuscular scoliosis: This type of scoliosis is caused by an underlying neuromuscular   disorder, such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy.
  4. Degenerative scoliosis: This type of scoliosis occurs in older adults and is caused by the natural degeneration of the spine due to aging.
  5. Functional scoliosis: This type of scoliosis is caused by an underlying condition that affects the body’s balance or posture, such as a leg length discrepancy or muscle weakness.
  6. Syndromic scoliosis: This type of scoliosis is associated with a genetic or inherited syndrome, such as Marfan syndrome or neurofibromatosis.

What are the treatment for scoliosis?

The treatment for scoliosis varies depending on the type, severity of the condition.  The severity of scoliosis is typically categorized as mild (10-25 degrees), moderate (25-40 degrees), or severe (greater than 40 degrees).

In mild cases, observation and monitoring with early Schroth therapy may be sufficient, while for moderate case, brace and Schroth therapy is indicated, for severe cases may require braces or surgery.

When shall we screen for scoliosis?

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends that children be screened for scoliosis at regular intervals during their growth and development years. The most common age for scoliosis screening is during early adolescence, typically between the ages of 10 and 14, when the spine is going through a period of rapid growth. Girls are more likely to develop scoliosis than boys, so they may be screened more frequently.

Early screening for scoliosis is important because it can lead to early detection and treatment, which can help prevent the progression of the curvature and minimize the need for more aggressive interventions later on.


Prepared by

Chang Sok Hooi

Your Physio Penang


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