Scoliosis is a lateral curvature in the normally straight vertical line of the spine. When viewed from the side, the spine should show a mild roundness in the upper back and shows a degree of swayback (inward curvature) in the lower back. When a person with a normal spine is viewed from the front or back, the spine appears to be straight. When a person with scoliosis is viewed from the front or back, the spine appears to be curved.
There are many types and causes of scoliosis. Congenital scoliosis is caused by a bone abnormality present at birth. Neuromuscular scoliosis, a result of abnormal muscles or nerves frequently seen in people with spina bifida or cerebral palsy or in those with various conditions that are accompanied by, or result in, paralysis.
Degenerative scoliosis, which may result from traumatic (from an injury or illness) bone collapse, previous major back surgery, or osteoporosis.
Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common type of scoliosis, and has no specific identifiable cause.
Those who have curves beyond 40 degrees to 50 degrees are often considered for scoliosis surgery. The goal is to make sure the curve does not get worse. During the procedure, metallic implants are utilized to correct some of the curvature and hold it in the correct position until a bone graft, placed at the time of surgery, consolidates and creates a rigid fusion in the area of the curve. Scoliosis surgery usually involves joining the vertebrae together permanently– called spinal fusion.