Category Archives: Scoliosis Causes

According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), scoliosis affects between 2% and 3% of the American population, or about six to nine million people. It is characterized by an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine and there are many different forms. The various types of scoliosis are classified by cause and age of onset; the speed and mechanism of progression also plays a role in determining the specific type of scoliosis.

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Understanding scoliosis begins with identifying its location and the type of spinal curvature.

Knowing this information can help predict what types of scoliosis symptoms may be experienced and how the condition can best be treated.

Scoliosis Curvature Types

There are several detailed systems for classifying specific types of scoliosis curves, but some of the most common terms identify curves based on their location within the spine and the direction they bend.

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When a patient with scoliosis reports back or leg pain, doctors often blame the spinal curves—despite the fact that idiopathic scoliosis rarely causes pain.

But the curves often aren’t the culprit. Many patients are actually suffering from a separate, unrelated condition that goes undetected while the curvature takes the blame. Take sciatica and scoliosis, for example; when they appear together, it’s often difficult to discern whether they’re related.

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A sideways-curving spine is the most troubling aspect of scoliosis, but it’s not the real problem. To figure out what actually causes scoliosis, scientists must look beyond the curve.

We now know that spinal curvature stems from a miscommunication between the brain and the muscles that support the spine. The child’s postural control centers fail to tell the muscles how to properly respond to gravity, so instead of growing straight the spine becomes curved. But why aren’t those messages being sent?

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