Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine that occurs most often during the growth spurt just before puberty. While it can be caused by conditions such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy, the major cause is unknown.

Most cases of it are mild, but some children develop spine deformities that continue to get more severe as they grow. Severe Scoliosis can be disabling. An especially severe spinal curve can reduce the amount of space within the chest, making it difficult for the lungs to function properly.

Children who have it mildly are monitored closely, usually with X-rays, to see if the curve is getting worse. In many cases, no treatment is necessary. Some children will need to wear a brace to stop the curve from worsening. Others may need surgery to keep scoliosis from worsening and to straighten severe cases of scoliosis.

Scoliosis may sometimes cause complications, including:

Lung and heart damage: In severe Scoliosis, the rib cage may press against the lungs and heart, making it more difficult to breathe and harder for the heart to pump.
Back problems: Adults who had Scoliosis as children are more likely to have chronic back pain than are people in the general population.
Appearance: As Scoliosis worsens, it can cause more noticeable changes — including unlevel shoulders, prominent ribs, uneven hips, and a shift of the waist and trunk to the side. Individuals with Scoliosis often become self-conscious about their appearance.

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