Scoliosis Q&A Guide

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Questions and Answers About Scoliosis in Children & Adolescents

What Is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a musculoskeletal disorder in which there is a sideways curvature of the spine. The bones that make up the spine are called vertebrae. Some people who have scoliosis require medical treatment. Those who have milder curves may need to visit their physician for periodic observation only.

Who Gets Scoliosis?

People can develop scoliosis at any age, but this guide focuses on children and adolescents. Out of every 1,000 children, three to five develop spinal curves that are considered severe enough to require treatment. Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is the most common type and typically occurs after the age of ten. The term “idiopathic” means the cause is unknown. Girls are likelier than boys to have AIS. Because scoliosis can run in families, a child who has a parent, brother, or sister with idiopathic scoliosis should undergo regular spinal exams by the family physician.

This information was adapted from materials provided by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS).

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