Idiopathic scoliosis refers to the 80 to 85% of scoliosis cases in which the cause is unknown. Scoliosis is a spinal deformity which causes an abnormal curvature of the spine. When viewed from behind, a normal spine appears straight. Scoliosis causes the spine to show a lateral or side-to-side curvature which makes the person appear to be leaning to one side. When the spine is shaped like a “C” or an “S” and the curvature is 10 degrees or greater you will be diagnosed with scoliosis. Scoliosis is more common in girls than in boys and usually occurs in people over ten years of age. The majority of people afflicted with idiopathic scoliosis are adolescent girls.
Idiopathic Scoliosis Symptoms
Idiopathic scoliosis usually does not cause pain or neurological symptoms in the early stages. In the beginning of the disease there is no pressure put on the internal organs by the curvature of the spine, so symptoms such as shortness of breath are usually not present with this particular type of scoliosis. Symptoms can include:
More severe and untreated cases of idiopathic scoliosis can include the following symptoms:
Idiopathic Scoliosis Causes
Although research is ongoing, there are still no identifiable causes for idiopathic scoliosis. According to the Scoliosis Research Society (SRS), a large majority of patients afflicted with idiopathic scoliosis are otherwise healthy and have no previous medical history associated with this disease. However, there does appear to be a genetic connection, since 30% of idiopathic scoliosis patients have some family history of the disease. SRS is steadily working to identify the genes associated with idiopathic scoliosis, and their knowledge is expanding rapidly.
Researchers are investigating many possible causes for idiopathic scoliosis such as:
Treatments for idiopathic scoliosis depend upon the severity of the condition and range from nonsurgical treatments such as bracing to the more invasive spinal fusion surgery.
The multidisciplinary team of orthopaedic experts at North Shore-LIJ Orthopaedic Institute's Spine Services in New York treats idiopathic scoliosis as well as a broad range of spine conditions that can occur at any stage of life.