Scoliosis is defined as a curvature of the spine of 10 degrees or more. There are multiple types of scoliosis found in children, teenagers and adults:

  • Scoliosis in children — Early onset scoliosis refers to a spinal deformity that is present before the age of 10. Early onset scoliosis could be idiopathic (a curved spine for which there is no known cause), congenital (vertebrae develops incorrectly in utero), neuromuscular (associated with neuromuscular disorders such as spinal muscular atrophy, cerebral palsy, and spina bifida) or syndromic (associated with Marfans and other connective tissue disorders).
  • Scoliosis in adolescents — The most common type of scoliosis in children ages 10 to 18 is idiopathic, which means that there is no apparent cause for the curvature of the spine. As many as 4 in 100 adolescents have idiopathic scoliosis.
  • Scoliosis in adults — Scoliosis in adults can be idiopathic. There is also adult degenerative scoliosis, which develops as a result of disc degeneration.

Possible Causes of Scoliosis

In the case of idiopathic scoliosis, there is no apparent cause for a curved spine. However, new research suggests that scoliosis could be genetic in some cases. Dr. Timothy Kuklo, board-certified surgeon at Denver International Spine Center (DISC), surmises that scoliosis in adolescents has a genetic basis.

According to the Scoliosis Research Society, approximately 30 percent of adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis have some family history of scoliosis. There are other theories as to what causes scoliosis in adolescents, such as hormonal imbalance, asymmetric growth and muscle imbalance.

Scoliosis is not caused by lifting or carrying heavy things (like wearing a backpack), participating in sports or by having a poor posture.

Signs of Scoliosis

In adolescents, back pain is not typically a sign of scoliosis. More often than not, back pain in children and teenagers is the result of growing pains, muscle strains, lack of flexibility, or a sports injury. In adults, back pain can be a common symptom of scoliosis.

Signs of Scoliosis in Adolescents

  • Crooked shoulders
  • Head slightly tilted to one side
  • One shoulder blade appears to “stick out” more than the other
  • Frequently leaning on one side
  • One leg seems longer than the other
  • One side of the hips “juts out” more than the other
  • Rib cage appears uneven or crooked

Signs of Scoliosis in Adults

  • Low back pain and stiffness
  • Numbness, cramping or shooting pain in the legs (due to pinched nerves)
  • Fatigue (due to strain on lower back and leg muscles)

Expert-Level Scoliosis Treatment for Children and Adults

At Denver International Spine Center (DISC), our multi-disciplinary team of scoliosis specialists and surgeons work together to treat a wide range of spine injuries and all spinal conditions, including scoliosis.

Our board-certified physicians work one-on-one with patients to ensure the best possible treatment outcomes. DISC is heavily involved in the latest research surrounding both common and complex spinal conditions, as well as using innovative technology to treat scoliosis and other medical issues involving the spine. Located in Denver, DISC is a leader in spinal care and treatment.