The spine has natural curves that round our shoulders and make our lower backs curve slightly inward. However, some people have spines that also curve from side to side. This condition of side-to-side spinal curves is called scoliosis. When viewing an x-ray of the spine from the front, the spine of a person with scoliosis looks more like an "S" or a "C" than a straight line. You may also notice that some of the bones have rotated and seem twisted, making the waist or shoulders appear uneven. In most cases, scoliosis is not painful, but in some situations it can cause back pain. If the condition is severe, it can interfere with the efficiency of the heart and lungs, and cause chest pain or shortness of breath.
What causes scoliosis is, for the most part, unknown. The condition does not come from carrying heavy things, athletic activity, sleeping/standing postures, or minor lower limb length inequality. The usual onset for scoliosis is in adolescence, between the ages of ten and fifteen. Although both boys and girls can develop scoliosis, females are eight times more likely to develop a curve that requires treatment.