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Understanding Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a problem that makes the spine curve and twist from side to side. It is most often found in girls in their early teens. But boys can have it, too. No one is sure what causes scoliosis. But we do know that scoliosis is not caused by things like carrying heavy bags or playing sports. If someone in your family (like a parent or a sibling) has scoliosis, you may be more likely to have it, too.

Teenage girl holding a model of a spine in the doctor's office.

What are the signs?

The signs of scoliosis may include:

  • One shoulder higher than the other

  • One shoulder blade sticking out farther than the other

  • An uneven waistline

  • Hems hanging unevenly on you

These signs often appear slowly as you grow. You and your parents may not even notice them. For this reason, schools in many states have screening programs to check for scoliosis. These programs help find scoliosis early and keep it from causing problems later.

A note to parents

Here are some suggestions:

  • Hearing that your child has scoliosis can be upsetting. But remember that mild cases may not need treatment. If your child's scoliosis is severe or worsening, it can be treated. 

  • Go to all your child’s appointments. Ask questions and be sure you understand the healthcare provider’s instructions.

  • Become informed about scoliosis. Try the library or do a search on the Internet.

  • Form a team with your child and the healthcare provider. Be your child’s coach and biggest fan.

  • Know that each child is different. Your child’s healthcare provider will choose the treatment that is best for your child’s spine.


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