Bones & Spinal Health


What is scoliosis?

  • It is the spine curving sideway abnormally, showing an "S" or a "C" instead of a straight line.
  • Majority of scoliosis is idiopathic (without obvious cause or other pathologies) and occurs during adolescence. This is called Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis.
  • Other causes of scoliosis include congenital bony abnormality and neuromuscular disorder.

Know more about Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis

  • It involves about 2 to 3% of the adolescents.
  • It occurs more in girls than in boys and those with family members having scoliosis.
  • It starts at around 10 years old and may progress when the child is growing. However, after the bones are mature, the chance of getting worse will be smaller and smaller.
  • Sufferers with immature skeleton and severe curves are more likely to have progression of their scoliosis.
  • Most cases are mild and require no treatment. However, those with significant curves should be managed by specialists.

Most cases of idiopathic scoliosis have no obvious cause.

How to notice it?

  1. Unequal shoulder height
  2. Asymmetrical prominence of the shoulder blades
  3. Uneven waist
  4. Tilting of the hips

Very often, cases of scoliosis go unnoticed since the curves may be obscured by the clothing and the patients are usually asymptomatic. However, one may notice asymmetry of the body, such as unequal shoulder height or asymmetrical prominence of the shoulder blades, uneven waist or tilting of the hips. However, when severe, it can cause cosmetic problems and affect cardiopulmonary functions.

How to prevent scoliosis?

  • There is no evidence that our daily lives or methods such as exercise, physiotherapy or diet can prevent the occurrence and progression of the problem.
  • Join the Student Health Service and attend regular physical check-up for scoliosis screening, which aims to detect the cases at an early stage so that early referral to specialists can be made.

Although our daily lives would not affect the occurrence or progression of scoliosis, in order to maintain general health of our spine, one should observe the following:

  1. Maintain a healthy diet, including intake of adequate calcium-rich food such as milk and milk products;
  2. Exercise regularly. Children and adolescents should accumulate at least 1 hour of moderate-to vigorous- intensity physical activity daily;
  3. Maintain a good posture when standing and sitting. Remember to stretch your body regularly;
  4. Expose to moderate sunlight occasionally to allow the skin to produce Vitamin D, which is important for calcium absorption;
  5. Observe safety measures when carrying heavy objects e.g. place the heavy object near to the body, bend the knees instead of the back when lifting it.

What to do if suffering from scoliosis?

Mild scoliosis usually does not need any treatment. It requires observation and regular check up only until the bones are mature. However, for those scoliosis which are relatively more severe, they should be monitored and handled by specialists.

Observation, bracing or surgical treatment may be suggested by the specialists based on the patient’s individual conditions.

(Revised in October 2016)
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Last Revision Date : 1 December 2016