We all have normal curvatures in the spine and, in fact, if you look at your spine from the side (sagittal plane), you will see an inward curve in the neck (lordosis), an outward curve in the mid-back (kyphosis) and an inward curve again in the low-back (lordosis). These curves are essential in centering the head over the pelvis and allowing for an upright posture.

If you were to look at your spine from behind (coronal plane), you shouldn’t see any curves at all. Any deviation from one side or the other is scoliosis.

Scoliosis is an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine and is most often diagnosed in childhood or early adolescence but can progress or develop in later adulthood.


Scoliosis can be classified by etiology: idiopathic, congenital, neuromuscular or adult/ degenerative. Idiopathic scoliosis is the diagnosis when all other causes are excluded, and it comprises about 80% of all cases and is usually diagnosed in adolescence.

Adult/Degenerative scoliosis can be caused by progression of the disease from childhood (idiopathic, congenital, neuromuscular). This usually occurs when the curve is not treated early or went unnoticed during childhood.

It can also be caused or accentuated by asymmetrical degeneration of components of the spine (vertebra, discs or facet joints). This may be caused by osteoporosis (porous bone), disc degeneration, compression fracture or a combination.

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