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Is scoliosis a type of arthritis?

Dr. David A. Hanscom, MD
Spine Surgeon

Scoliosis is just a descriptive term that describes the problem of the spine curving sideways. There are many causes of scolisosis, with the most commonly known one being adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. "Idiopathic" just means "unknown." It, by definition, occurs around the age of 8-10 and progresses through the end of growth. It is much more common in females.

There is a form of scoliosis that occurs in adults called degenerative scoliosis. As you age, the spine can asymmetrically collapse, causing a sideways bending of the spine. There are bone spurs and arthritis associated with this type of scoliosis. Believe it or not, there is not any connection between scoliosis, bone spurs, arthritis, and back pain. There is a trend to perform major surgery for degenerative scoliosis. Patients usually still have the pain, and there is a high complication rate. The only reason to consider adult scoliosis surgery is if the spine is significantly out of balance. Otherwise comprehensive rehab is a much better and effective option. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.