Scoliosis causes a sideways curve of your backbone, or spine. The curve is often S- or C-shaped. Scoliosis most commonly occurs in late childhood and early teens, when children grow quickly. Girls are more likely to have it than boys. It can run in families. Symptoms include leaning to one side and having uneven shoulders and hips.
Doctors use your medical and family history, a physical exam and imaging tests to diagnose scoliosis. Treatment depends on your age, how much more you are likely to grow, how much curving there is and whether the curve is temporary or permanent. People with mild scoliosis might only need checkups to monitor if the curve is getting worse. Others might need to wear a brace or have surgery.
Kyphosis, another spinal deformity, is an excessive curvature of the upper back, often with rounded shoulders. It also is called round back, hunchback or dowager’s hump. Kyphosis can occur at any age, although rarely at birth. In severe cases, it can cause pain or breathing difficulties due to pressure on the lungs.
Causes of kyphosis include:
- Degenerative diseases of the spine, such as arthritis or disc degeneration
- Muscle weakness or poor posture
- Spine injury
- Slipping of one vertebra (spine bone) forward on another—a condition called spondylolisthesis
- Scheuermann’s disease (wedging together of several spine bones in young people; cause is unknown)
Treatment for kyphosis ranges from back exercises and physical therapy in mild cases to surgery to correct severe curvature.
Source: NIH: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Learn more about brain and spine neurological conditions at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Why choose Ohio State for treatment of scoliosis and kyphosis?
Comprehensive Care: The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Comprehensive Spine Center has a complete spinal deformity program that offers multiple options for the treatment of scoliosis and kyphosis. For most patients, surgery is not necessary. But if your quality of life is compromised, our spine surgeons can address the most challenging surgical cases, helping people who have not found help elsewhere.
Physical Therapy Expertise: Our physical therapists specialize in spine conditions and work with you one on one to alleviate pain and to improve your strength and flexibility.
Surgical Expertise: Our surgeons are fellowship-trained in complex spine surgeries. We perform more complex spine surgeries than any other medical center in central Ohio, giving you the confidence of being cared for by highly experienced surgeons with high rates of surgical success.
Research: You will benefit from our involvement in national and international trials that provide you with the most current treatment methods in scoliosis and kyphosis care.
Susan shares her experience
Walking while standing up straight was something Susan never thought she’d get to do again. Susan was diagnosed with severe osteoarthritis and scoliosis; her spinal deformity was making it difficult to breathe and live comfortably. Following years of back pain and multiple surgeries, Susan decided it was time to visit the Comprehensive Spine Center at Ohio State. Francis Farhadi, MD, PhD, a neurosurgeon specializing in spine disorders, performed a surgical procedure to re-align her spine. Now Susan is walking freely and living her life to the fullest.
Pam's journey with scoliosis
Pam has dealt with painful back problems her entire life. Born with scoliosis, her spinal deformity became so debilitating, she could hardly move. Pam found herself walking bent over; she had difficulty breathing or taking the stairs. Finally, Pam visited Stephanus Viljoen, MD, a neurosurgeon specializing in spine disorders at Ohio State, who performed a surgical procedure to straighten her spine. After surgery and physical therapy, Pam is finally walking tall and pain-free.