Scoliosis is a disease which involves a lateral curvature of the spine; that is, the spine is bent sideways. Scoliosis is incurable, but its natural course can be affected with treatments such as surgery or back braces.
Scoliosis curves greater than 10° affect 2-3% of the population, often children between the ages of seven and ten, with a greater incidence among girls. Curves greater than 20° affect about 1 in 2500 people. Right-sided curves are more common than left-sided curves.
Different etiologic theories point to genetic, neuromuscular, hormonal and growth factors, though it appears that the cause is multifactorial. The vast majority of cases (85%) have unknown causes or are idiopathic.
In one out of every 1000 cases, surgery may be necessary. Females are nine times more likely to require treatment than males, mostly since they are also more likely to have larger, progressive curves.