In the vast majority of the cases, the exact cause of scoliosis cannot be identified. Some findings seem to point to the possibility that it is an inherited condition or that it may have some other trigger that is not yet fully understood. There are two recognized types of scoliosis as defined by the medical profession: non-structural and structural.
Non-structural (functional) Scoliosis
This type of scoliosis presents itself as a curving of the spine, with no spinal rotation. This type of scoliosis is usually at least partly reversible. The condition is most predominantly caused by:
Pain and swelling of back or neck muscles or a severe muscle spasm that pulls vertebrae out of place.
A difference in leg length or other similar leg disorders that affect posture when walking and standing.
This type of scoliosis also exhibits a curve in the spine, but it is coupled with spinal rotation, that is irreversible because the cause is not fully understood in order to treat it or the damage is too severe. Causes for structural scoliosis include:
Disorders that were present at birth and last during childhood, making them difficult to correct.
Nerve or muscle disorders and disease that have no cure or good treatments.
Injuries to the spine, bones, muscles, or nerve.
Infections in the spinal column.
Tumors of the spine and back.
Scoliosis – Symptoms
In young children and in teens, scoliosis offers little to no noticeable symptoms until the curve becomes severe- and at that point corrective treatments may not be effective. It is often first noticeable to a parent when they see that their child's clothes do not fit right or that they hang on them unevenly. When examined closely, the child's spine can appear to be crooked, ribs may stick out unnaturally, and shoulders and arms may hang at different heights.
In people with Scoliosis:
One shoulder may be higher
One hip might appear to be higher
The head may appear offset on the body
The ribs protrude unevenly when they bends at the waist
The waistline appears flat or less pronounced on one side
Both types of scoliosis often cause little to no pain in children, teens, and even young adults. When back pain accompanies scoliosis, it is often caused by the shift in the spine pinching nerves, pulling muscles, limiting movement, stiffening joints, or damaging the spinal column. The pain can also be caused by the fact that the curve in the spine throws the rest of the body off balance and that results in pressure and tension on other parts of the body.
In most cases of scoliosis where back pain is severe, there is often other underlying issues that add to the pain and severity of the symptoms. There are few treatments that can be offered for long-term relief and most people who suffer from structural and non-structural scoliosis have to learn to live with their condition, moderate their activity, minimize pain, and adjust their lives to still be full and complete even with their condition.