Scoliosis | Symptoms and Causes

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What are the signs and symptoms of scoliosis?

Because of the many possible combinations of curvatures, scoliosis can look different in different children. Common signs and symptoms of scoliosis may include:

  • uneven shoulder heights
  • head not centered with the rest of the body
  • uneven hip heights or positions
  • uneven shoulder blade heights or positions
  • prominent shoulder blade
  • when standing straight, uneven arm lengths
  • when bending forward, the left and right sides of the back are asymmetrical

Symptoms that suggest scoliosis can resemble those of other spinal conditions or deformities, or may result from an injury or infection.

Features of scoliosis

What are the causes of scoliosis?

There are several causes of abnormal spinal curves:

In many cases, as in idiopathic scoliosis, there’s no definite cause for (or way to prevent) the spine’s failure to grow as straight as it should. Some babies are born with spinal formation problems that cause the spine to grow unevenly. These include congenital scoliosis, congenital kyphosis, spina bifida or Klippel-Feil anomaly.

Some children have nerve or muscle (neuromuscular) diseases, injuries or other illnesses that cause spinal deformities, such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida or muscular dystrophy. In these conditions, muscle abnormalities combined with the child’s growth result in deformity.

Other causes of scoliosis may include:

  • bone dysplasias: many generalized abnormalities of bone formation are associated with scoliosis
  • connective tissue disorders: conditions with abnormal tissues and ligaments, such as Marfan syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
  • differences in leg lengths: mild leg length differences may cause a slight curvature but rarely cause a serious curvature
  • spinal cord injury with paralysis
  • infection
  • tumors
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