What causes scoliosis?In most (80 to 85 percent) cases, the cause of scoliosis is unknown - a condition called idiopathic scoliosis. Scoliosis is more common in females than males. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, three to five out of every 1,000 children develop spinal curves that are considered large enough to require
treatment. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, in cooperation with the Scoliosis Research Society, describe three different types of scoliosis that can occur in children - congenital (present at birth), neuromuscular, or idiopathic.
Scoliosis runs in families and may involve genetic (hereditary) factors. But researchers haven't identified the gene or genes that may cause scoliosis. Doctors also recognize that spinal cord and brainstem abnormalities play a role in some cases of scoliosis. Genetic defects that cause altered processing in the brain may play a role in producing abnormalities in the growing spine. For example, interesting research has implicated low levels of melatonin, a hormone secreted in the brain that is involved with sleep and growth. Researchers speculate that genetic factors that cause reduced blood levels of melatonin may adversely affect muscle tone and development during sleep, perhaps contributing to scoliosis.
Nonstructural (functional) scoliosis is a temporary condition when the spine is otherwise normal. The curvature occurs as the result of another problem. Examples include 1 leg being shorter than another from muscle spasms or from appendicitis. In structural scoliosis, the spine is not normal. The curvature is caused by another disease process such as a birth defect, muscular dystrophy, metabolic diseases, connective tissue disorders, or Marfan syndrome. Congenital scoliosis is caused by inborn spinal deformities that may result in the development of absent or fused vertebrae. Kidney problems, particularly having only one kidney, often coincide with congenital scoliosis.