What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a common spinal condition that affects over 3 million people in the United States each year. In fact, approximately 2% – 3% of Americans aged between 10 and 15 years old develop scoliosis. Defined as a sideways curvature in the normally straight vertical path of the spine, scoliosis may surface during the rapid growth spurts just before puberty. Females tend to have a higher risk of developing this condition than males.


Scoliosis image


There are four primary types of scoliosis, including:

  • Neuromuscular

    As a result from reduced muscle or nerve function, this form of scoliosis is usually seen in those with cerebral palsy, spina bifida or other conditions that are accompanied by paralysis. Neuromuscular scoliosis is also commonly referred to as myopathic scoliosis.

  • Degenerative

    Caused by aging and general wear and tear, degenerative scoliosis typically spurs from the thinning of the bones. An unexpected injury or trauma can also cause this type of scoliosis. Usually occurring later in life, it is one of the few types of scoliosis that healthy patients may first begin to experience in adulthood.

  • Congenital

    If a patient is born with a bone abnormality and they develop scoliosis as a result, their condition is considered congenital scoliosis. This ailment develops in the uterus and can be recognized during a child’s infancy. Congenital scoliosis is very rare, affecting only one in 10,000 children. However, those who suffer from this complication generally require corrective surgery.

  • Idiopathic

    This type of scoliosis arises from no known cause. However, strong evidence suggests that this type of scoliosis can be inherited and has a genetic component.

The severity of scoliosis depends upon the shape, location, and direction of the curvature. Lateral arcs are generally described as “S-shaped” curves or “C-shaped” curves, as they resemble the deviations of these letters. Other common terms used to indicate the details of a specific curvature include:

  • Dextroscoliosis

    The most frequently occurring type of spinal curve, dextroscoliosis develops when the spine bends toward the right. This usually happens in the thoracic (middle back) area of the spine and may be isolated (forming a “C” shape), or accompanied by another curve moving in the opposite direction in the lower spine (creating an “S” shape).

  • Levoscoliosis

    A spinal curve to the left, levoscoliosis usually surfaces in the lumbar (lower back) region of the spine. However, it is important to diagnose levoscoliosis quickly because if it occurs in the thoracic spine, it may indicate a spinal cord tumor.

  • Thoracic Scoliosis

    In the majority of cases, scoliosis occurs in the middle (thoracic) spine.

  • Lumbar Scoliosis

    Sometimes, scoliosis may occur in the lower (lumbar) spine.

  • Thoracolumbar Scoliosis

    Some patients may suffer from scoliosis that involves the vertebrae in both the lower thoracic spine and the upper lumbar spine.


If you discover a spinal curvature, it is important to speak with a licensed spine professional to determine its causes. Many factors can be easily treated, but others can be dangerous and require timely medical attention.

Common causes include:

  • Congenital abnormality or possible genetic predisposition
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Osteoporosis
  • Aging
  • Bone degeneration
  • Sudden injury, trauma or accident
  • Infection
  • Tumor or growth

By analyzing the spinal curve and performing non-invasive tests when necessary, spine specialists can typically determine the underlying cause and then build a treatment plan best suited for each case.


Scoliosis can be difficult to diagnose since its symptoms can appear gradually and may not be accompanied by any immediate pain. However, it is important to address it promptly since this can increase your chance of obtaining effective treatment and preserve your quality of life.

Look out for these symptoms:

  • The spine appears curved when viewed from the back
  • One shoulder appears higher than the other
  • One shoulder blade protrudes more than the other
  • One hip appears higher or more prominent than the other
  • The waist appears uneven
  • Dull or sharp back pain is experienced
  • Difficulty breathing (in extreme cases)
  • One leg appears shorter than the other
  • The body tilts to one side

If you have trouble breathing, experience decreased mobility or extreme pain, seek emergency medical attention immediately.

Minimally Invasive Treatment Approach

During your initial consultation, our trained spine specialists will review your symptoms, family history, and physical state to determine the severity of your condition. Then, based on this information, we will create a personalized treatment plan designed to fit your needs and goals.

Unless you are suffering from progressive or severe scoliosis (typically determined by the degree to which your spine curves), we generally provide conservative treatments, such as:

  • Radiofrequency ablation
  • Back bracing
  • Specialized exercise or physical therapy
  • Spinal rehabilitation programs

If your scoliosis is minor and appears to be stationary, we will carefully observe your condition to ensure safety. If the curvature in the spine expands greater than 20 – 30 degrees and conservative treatments are ineffective, we may then suggest the option of minimally invasive spine surgery. Generally, these surgeries use small amounts of bone graft or bone marrow aspirate to fuse the area of the curve and correct the spine.

When considering minimally invasive surgery, patients should be aware of the many benefits these advanced techniques offer. Unlike traditional surgery, minimally invasive surgery includes:

  • Tiny incisions
  • Reduced blood loss and scarring
  • Minimal trauma to surrounding muscle and tissue
  • Quicker recovery times, allowing patients to return to work, school, and daily activities sooner
  • Faster pain relief and eliminated discomfort

We can offer timely referrals to a variety of specialists if it is determined that your condition does not require a spine expert. With orthopedic surgeons, pain management specialists, a state-of-the-art surgical center, and more, Lumin Health drives new standards in patient-centric care by providing innovative services and expert treatment.

About Us

The first in Texas to perform micro-endoscopic laser spine surgery with an incision as small as 3 mm, Dr. Won advises multiple international spine technology companies and has helped design many groundbreaking tools for the minimally invasive spine surgery industry.

Dr. Won also innovated the Pain Mapping procedures, this diagnostic study helps to pin point the pain generator so that we can provide the least invasive spine procedures, LuMINI.

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