Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine. Although scoliosis is usually diagnosed in children and teens, it is becoming more common as our population ages and people experience degenerative spinal conditions. Women, in particular, are more likely to develop osteoporosis as they get older, and that can put them at risk for degenerative scoliosis. At Indiana University Health Neuroscience, our spinal experts provide comprehensive evaluation and sophisticated treatment for adults and children with scoliosis.

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1. About Scoliosis 2. Risk Factors
3. Symptoms 4. Diagnosis
5. Treatment

About Scoliosis

There are four kinds of scollosis:

  • Congenital scoliosis, which is present at birth.
  • Neuromuscular scoliosis, in which the condition develops because of an underlying neurological condition like muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, spina bifida or polio.
  • Degenerative scoliosis, which is the result of injury, previous back surgery or osteoporosis.
  • Idiopathic scoliosis, the most common kind, which has no known cause and usually develops during adolescence.

Risk Factors

If you have a family member with scoliosis, you're at greater risk for developing the condition yourself. Females are also more likely to have scoliosis than males, and it's most common in adolescent girls. About 10 percent of U.S. women have scoliosis, while only about 5 percent of U.S. men have the condition.


Most teens don't experience any symptoms, but the shoulders and hips may appear uneven because of the curvature. The most common symptom of scoliosis in adults is low-back pain. Some people may also experience fatigue.


To confirm scoliosis, IU Health Neuroscience doctors use a physical exam, family history and x-rays of the spine to measure how much the spine is curving. Doctors may also conduct MRI or CT studies.


Many people with scoliosis can be treated with physical therapy or bracing, and some people require only careful monitoring by their doctor. At IU Health Neuroscience, doctors determine treatment on a case-by-case basis.

  • In cases where the curve is less than 20 degrees, the person will likely be checked periodically by a doctor to see if the curve progresses.
  • In cases where the curve is 20 to 40 degrees, the person will likely be watched closely and bracing may be considered.
  • And in cases where the curve is greater than 50 degrees, worsening or not responding to treatment, surgery may be recommended.

In surgery, neurosurgeons fuse together two bones of the spine and insert a metal rod to help the spine stay straight. IU Health Neuroscience features one of the most sophisticated scoliosis surgery programs in the state, and people who require surgery come from across Indiana and the Midwest for expert care from the neurosurgeons at IU Health Neuroscience.

Our surgeons use intraoperative CT images, or scans taken during the procedure, to help them place the metal rod and all instruments in exactly the right position. This ensures a safe and effective surgery and reduces the need for additional treatments. In addition, IU Health Neuroscience features the nation’s most sophisticated neuromonitoring program, which means there is less risk of any spinal cord damage and patient safety is assured throughout surgery.

Learn more about scoliosis.