Scoliosis is a curve in the spine where one vertebra is twisted upon the other. They can cause a C-shape or S-shape in the spine. This will influence how the ribs are positioned. It can only be diagnosed by X-ray, which will classify how severe the curve is.

There are 2 types of scoliosis, structural and functional. Structural scoliosis is usually due to a genetic predisposition. It is more common in females and is diagnosed in early teenage years. It is often progressive during puberty and pregnancy, hence, the need for close monitoring in young women.

Functional scoliosis is caused by posture or biomechanical factors. If not diagnosed or treated while it is still flexible, it can become a structural problem. Causes of functional scoliosis are tight muscles on one side of the spine or short leg syndrome (if one leg is shorter than the other, the pelvis will tilt towards the shorter side and the spine will curve back to keep the head and eyes level).

Scoliosis can sometimes cause pain depending on how severe it is. If mild, it can be managed by stretches and a strengthening programme. If severe, it can compromise the heart and lung function and might require bracing or surgery. 

Osteopathy can help patients with scoliosis by working on the muscular stiffness and lack of mobility in the spine. It is helpful in keeping the patient comfortable and may help in slowing the progress of the curvature. Also, as patients with scoliosis are at risk for disc herniation, it is important to learn about proper lifting and back care.

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Reference and research:

An Osteopathic Approach to Diagnosis and Treatment by Eileen L. DiGiovanna

An Osteopathic Approach to Children by Jane E Carreiro pp. 210-213.