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You are here: Home » Conditions » Scoliosis

What Is Scoliosis?

The term scoliosis simply means a lateral deviation of the spine. 

Are there different types of scoliosis?

Scoliosis can be classified into different types, depending on the cause. 

Types of scoliosis include the following.

  • Idiopathic Scoliosis
  • Congenital
  • Neuromuscular
  • Degenerative

DSCN1324Idiopathic scoliosis is a curvature of the spine that doesn’t appear to be due to any other medical condition. Current research suggests that it is mainly genetic in nature.In children that present under the age of 6 it is called early onset. When it occurs in the very young it can sometimes progress and be a serious disorder.It is most common in teenagers and is usually a cosmetic issue, so some patients may be unconcerned and some may be bothered by the appearance of their spine. It is not a weakness of the spine and it isn’t usually painful.

Case 28 CT 1Some patients may be born with an abnormality of  the bones (vertebrae) within the spine. As the patients grow the spine may become progressively curved. This is known as congenital scoliosis. Some patients may have an underlying disorder that is associated with scoliosis such as muscle weakness or imbalance.

How is my back assessed?

The spinal surgeon will take a history to ascertain if there is an underlying cause for the scoliosis and a clinical examination the asses the degree of curvature, the cause and to see if the nerves are affected.


X-rays are useful to assess the degree of curvature within the spine. They may also show a cause for the scolisosis. 

MRI Scan

Following appropriate assessment by the spinal specialist further investigations may be required. MRI scans are commonly used to investigate the cause of the scoliosis, although other tests such as X-rays or CT scans may also be used. See MRI scan.

What treatment do I need?


Depending on the degree of scoliosis and the cause, your surgeon may elect to monitor the curve within the sine. This will require regular review within the outpatient clinic as well as possible further X-rays.


Certain patients may require surgery on their spine to either prevent further progression of the curve, or to reduce the curve within the spine.