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What Is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is an S or C shaped curvature of the spine most often seen in adolescents; it is eight times more common in girls than boys.  While usually asymptomatic, the curvature can progress into adulthood and later cause significant cosmetic and psychologic problems, as well as other deformities and significant pain in affected women.  Its cause is usually unknown, and while a family history is often present, specific genetic factors have yet to be identified.

If scoliosis is allowed to progress untreated, it has the potential to cause deformities of the chest, lung abnormalities, and even difficulty breathing.  While bracing and exercises are recommended in mild to moderate cases, spinal fusion surgery with insertion of metal rods may be recommended for the treatment of moderate to severe cases. 

Pregnancy is often uncomplicated by scoliosis, although a cesarean section is more likely to be required.  Many women with scoliosis are not aware, however, that they are at increased risk for osteoporosis, whether or not they were treated surgically.  Women with a history of scoliosis should speak with their doctors about when they should have osteoporosis testing.

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Created: 4/17/2001  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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