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Back Pain Health Center

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Scoliosis - Cause

In most cases, the cause of scoliosis is not known. This is called idiopathic scoliosis. It develops mostly in children and teens and appears to be related to several things, including genetics, as it often runs in families.

There are two types of scoliosis: nonstructural and structural.

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Nonstructural (functional) scoliosis

Nonstructural (functional) scoliosis involves a curve in the spine, without rotation, that is reversible because it is caused by a condition such as:

Structural scoliosis

Structural scoliosis involves a curve in the spine, with rotation, that is irreversible and is usually caused by an unknown factor (idiopathic) or a disease or condition such as:

  • Disorders that were present at birth (congenital), such as spina bifida, in which the spinal canal does not close properly; or a disorder that affects the formation of bones. These curves can be harder to correct. They often get worse as the child grows, especially during the teen years.
  • Nerve or muscle disorders, such as cerebral palsy, Marfan's syndrome, or muscular dystrophy.
  • Injuries.
  • Infections.
  • Tumors.

In adults, scoliosis may result from changes in the spine due to aging (degenerative changes).

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: June 04, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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