Scoliosis: The Lowdown


By Sara Castoldi 

Scoliosis is a condition where the spine twists and curves to the side. The curve, which can increase over time, is usually “S”- or “C”-shaped. Although it’s not a condition many of us are familiar with, it is fairly common and affects people of all ages from babies through to the elderly. The condition most commonly starts in children aged between 10 and 15 years however before the onset of puberty. The condition is also typically more prevalent in girls than boys.


Scoliosis causes an abnormal curve in the spine. The curve is usually “S” or “C”-shaped and can increase in severity over time.


What causes scoliosis?

While scoliosis can be caused by conditions such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy, in around 80% of cases, the cause is unknown. This is called idiopathic scoliosis which can be genetic. Less commonly, scoliosis is caused by:

  • The bones of the spine not forming properly in the womb (congenital scoliosis)
  • An underlying nerve or muscle condition (neuromuscular scoliosis)
  • Wear and tear of the spine with age (degenerative scoliosis) 


What are the main symptoms?

Scoliosis has a number of symptoms which can vary in severity depending on the extent of the condition. Some of the more common symptoms include;

  • A visibly curved spine
  • Leaning to one side
  • Uneven shoulders
  • One shoulder or hip sticking out
  • The ribs sticking out to one side
  • Clothes not fitting well
  • Back pain


What are the treatment options?

Treatment is dependent on age, how severe the curve is, and whether it’s likely to get worsen with time.

  • New borns and young children may not require treatment as the spine may straighten over time. A plastic brace can be fitted to a child’s back in some instances to stop the curve getting worse as they grow.
  • Older children can wear a back brace to prevent the curve worsening until they stop growing. Sometimes surgery may be needed to control the growth of the spine until an operation to straighten it can be done when they stop growing.
  • Adults may need treatment to relieve any pain and, very occasionally, surgery is an option for treatment of the condition.

Most people suffering with scoliosis are able to live their lives normally and can do most activities, including exercise and sport. Regular exercise is important for children as it can help improve muscle strength and has the potential to reduce any back pain.


There is currently reliable evidence to suggest that therapies, such as osteopathy, can help correct a curved spine or prevent the curvature from getting worse. Here at Osteopathy West London we consider a range of factors when deciding upon the best course of treatment.

If you think you or your child may be suffering from scoliosis and would like to speak to us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can contact us at our practice on 020 088 0614 or via email at Or, if you prefer, you can book a free consultation with us by clicking here.



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