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Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis

January 29, 2024 Staff

Topics - Developmental

Nature, Causes, and Treatment of Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis

Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is a common spinal condition that causes a sideways curvature of the spine, typically diagnosed in children between the ages of 10 and 18. The term "idiopathic" means that the exact cause of the scoliosis is unknown. Here are key aspects of this condition:


  • Sideways Curvature of the Spine: The spine curves to the side in a "C" or "S" shape.

  • Asymmetry in the Body: Uneven shoulders, waistline, or hips.

  • No Known Cause: The exact cause of AIS is unknown, though it may involve genetic factors.

Risk Factors

  • Age: Most commonly diagnosed during the growth spurt just before puberty.

  • Gender: Girls are more likely to develop severe scoliosis that requires treatment.

  • Family History: A family history of scoliosis increases the risk.


  • Physical Examination: Includes examining the back, shoulders, waist, and hips.

  • Adam’s Forward Bend Test: A simple test where the child bends forward at the waist; it can reveal asymmetry in the ribs and lower back.

  • X-rays: Used to confirm the diagnosis and measure the degree of curvature.


  • Observation: For mild cases, regular monitoring is often recommended.

  • Bracing: In cases where the curve is moderate and the child is still growing, wearing a brace can help prevent further curvature.

  • Surgery: In severe cases, particularly when the curve is progressing rapidly or causing other health issues, spinal surgery may be considered.


  • Mild Scoliosis: Often does not cause problems and may only need regular monitoring.

  • Moderate to Severe Scoliosis: Can lead to more significant physical deformities and may require more aggressive treatment to prevent progression.

Long-Term Outlook

  • Physical Activities: Most children with scoliosis can participate fully in physical activities.

  • Health Monitoring: Long-term monitoring may be necessary, as some curves can worsen with age.

  • Quality of Life: With appropriate treatment, most individuals with AIS lead healthy, active lives.

It's important for adolescents diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis to receive regular medical care to monitor the progression of the curvature and to determine the best course of treatment. Early intervention can be key in managing the condition effectively.

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