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Scoliosis: An Unnatural Curve
Date:5/11/2008

Treatment includes watchful waiting, bracing and, sometimes, surgery,,,,

SUNDAY, May 11 (HealthDay News) -- Human spines are naturally curved and flexible so that you can bend, twist, reach and more.

But, in some people, the natural curve of the spine doesn't develop properly and the spine takes on an "S" or "C" shape.

This condition is known as scoliosis and it affects about 6 million Americans, according to the National Scoliosis Foundation. While it isn't a dangerous or life-threatening condition, it can sometimes be uncomfortable. And for teens, it can be damaging to self-esteem.

"Scoliosis still carries a black cloud over it, but for the vast majority of children, it doesn't matter and they grow up fine," said Dr. John Grayhack, an attending physician and orthopaedic surgeon at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

Scoliosis is usually diagnosed between the ages of 10 and 15, according to the scoliosis foundation. If you have a family member who's had scoliosis, your odds of developing the disorder increase to one in five, instead of the usual one in 50, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons .

In most cases, the cause of scoliosis isn't known. However, there are two known causes of scoliosis: congenital and neuromuscular, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. In congenital scoliosis, a problem occurs in the womb when the spine is forming that causes it to develop with a curve. In neuromuscular scoliosis, the curve may be caused by poor muscle control or weakness from diseases such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy. The muscles simply can't keep the spine in proper alignment. Later in life, scoliosis may occur as a result of osteoporosis.

Many children are unaware they have scoliosis. It's often discovered during a routine physical exam or at a scoliosis screening at school. Signs of scoliosis include a spine curving abnormally to the si
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