The term scoliosis is used to describe an abnormal curvature of the spine. Scoliosis can be caused by congenital, developmental or degenerative problems or simply be idiopathic (a condition caused by no known cause.)
Scoliosis usually develops in the thoracic spine (upper back) or the thoracolumbar area of the spine, which is between the thoracic spine and lumbar spine (lower back). It may also occur just in the lower back. The curvatures are usually S or C shaped. Usually these curves in the spine are visible beneath the skin to the naked eye.
Idiopathic scoliosis is by far the most prevalent form of scoliosis and occurs to some degree in approximately one half million adolescents in the United States.
The risk of scoliosis is increased during puberty, when the growth rate of the body is the fastest. Scoliosis with significant curvature of the spine is much more prevalent in girls than in boys, and girls are eight times more likely to need treatment for scoliosis. Still, the majority of all cases of scoliosis do not require treatment.