Adolescent Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a condition that causes an abnormal curve in the spine. When someone with scoliosis is viewed from behind, the spine has a side-to-side curve, such as the letter “S.”  A normal spine appears straight when the body is viewed from behind.

Typically the cause is unknown – in which case, it is referred to as idiopathic scoliosis.

Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is most often discovered during a routine physical exam.  Pain is not typical in adolescents with AIS. Symptoms may include:

  • One shoulder appearing higher than the other
  • Clothes not hanging straight

Doctors take the following steps in evaluating an adolescent for scoliosis:

  • Physical exam
  • X-ray

Scoliosis can be treated with or without surgery, depending on the size and severity of the curve.

Without surgery, treatment includes either watching the curve for changes or the patient wears a brace.

The doctor may consider surgery if the curve reaches a point where it will continue to worsen even after growth is finished.

The long-term outcome depends on the size of the curve.

Small to moderate curves tend to do well. There may be a slight increase in back pain in persons with moderate curves in their lower back.

Larger curves require surgical treatment. The long-term outcome for individuals with larger curves is excellent following surgery.

Call the Spine Nurses Hotline at 513-803-2750 if you have questions or concerns.


Last Updated 09/2013