What Are the Effects of Scoliosis?

Scoliosis involves a C- or S-shaped curve in the spine. This disorder is most frequent in girls from about age 8 to the start of the teen years. For mild scoliosis, regular checkups monitor the spine. For severe scoliosis, surgery or a brace on the spine are needed. Scoliosis occurs in about 2 percent of people. If relatives have scoliosis, the risk for the disorder increases to 20 percent, the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons says. Scoliosis occurs in adults, too.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Misalignment of Body

When the spine curves with scoliosis, the shoulders, waist and hips aren't in alignment. This happens because the bones in the spine have rotated a bit. The spinal abnormality also causes the body to lean to one side to compensate for the curve in the spine.

Needing to Use a Brace

Another effect of scoliosis is the need to use a brace to help straighten the spine. A brace is used when growth is still underway and the spinal curve is more than 25 to 30 degrees, or if the curve is 20 to 29 degrees and continuing to become more severe. Also, a brace is needed if there are two years of growth ahead and the spinal curve is 20 to 29 degrees. If this involves a female, she should not have started menstruating yet, notes the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.


Surgery is an effect of severe scoliosis. This melds together at least two spinal bones. A rod is often implanted during surgery to keep the spine straight as future growth occurs. Surgery is done when the spinal curve is over 45 degrees and becoming progressively worse.

Hip Problems

When scoliosis occurs in adults, there are many side effects. Hip problems are linked to arthritis. Degenerative scoliosis causes the ribs to become more apparent on one side of the spine. The waist also is smaller on one side than the other.

Loss of Balance and Shrinking Height

Adult scoliosis also causes problems with balance. Scoliosis diminishes overall height as the spinal misalignment contorts the body and decreases stature.

Leg and Buttocks Pain

Adult scoliosis also creates pain in the legs, weakness and numbness. Pain in the buttocks often also arises, due to nerve compression or arthritic pain coming down from the spine. These symptoms require a quick consultation with a doctor.

Bladder and Bowel Problems

Rarely, adult scoliosis causes loss of control of bladder and bowel function. These problems require immediate surgery.