What Is Scoliosis And How Does It Affect You?

Scoliosis is a word that I’m sure we’ve all heard before – but have you ever wondered what scoliosis is? If not, it’s something you should know about. Girls two times more likely to be affected by it than guys are, which is a pretty scary fact.

When I was younger, my middle school made a big deal about scoliosis. Our teachers constantly told us sad stories about girls our age living with back braces and we had yearly check-ups on our spines in our school gym. I dreaded these days – I was constantly worried that one day, I would hear the worst. Actually, I shouldn’t say worried – I should say terrified. I’m not sure where my fear of scoliosis came from (maybe just health class?), but either way, I spent most of my young life being paranoid that it would happen to me.

This may seem like a silly fear to you, but scoliosis is nothing to mess around with. So what is scoliosis? It is an abnormal curve of the spine that causes the spine to curve to the side. About three to five out of every 1,000 people are affected and, like I said, it affects girls more than boys. The most common form of it is idiopathic scoliosis, which occurs in early teens. Basically, if you’re a girl in your early teens, it’s super important to get your spine checked regularly – this is when scoliosis is most common.

Idiopathic scoliosis has no known causes, which is a fact that is scary enough on it’s own. Other forms of scoliosis include nonstructural, which is temporary and is a result of another issue, and structural, which is caused by something like a birth defect, muscular dystrophy or metabolic diseases. Also, you’re more likely to be affected by scoliosis if a relative has had it.

When you suffer from scoliosis, you can also suffer from back pain. One of your hips or shoulders may be higher than the other one, your head might be off center and it may even affect how you walk. Remember, if you have scoliosis, your spine is curing abnormally – it’s going to make your body a little off balance.

As far as treatment goes, it depends on what type of scoliosis you have and how bad you have it. For those who are lucky enough to have a case that’s not so bad, doctors will usually simply just monitor your spine every few months. For cases that are worse, surgery or back braces may be required.

While scoliosis can still be treated and can sometimes even go away on it’s own, this is still not a fun condition by any means. Just read this piece in the Huffington Post about a girl who grew up dealing with scoliosis. Her bulky and embarrassing back brace made her life a nightmare, not only because of taunting kids at school, but also because it affected her sleep and her body.

There is still a lot that doctors don’t know about scoliosis – how exercise or sports affects it, the causes of idiopathic scoliosis. While it’s a comfort to know that treatments have improved over the years, it’s still important to be kept informed about stuff like this. If you’ve never had your spine looked at, go out there and get that done!

Do you suffer from scoliosis? Do you know anyone who does? What’s your story? Tell us in the comments.


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  • Anony-mouse

    The school nurses have been telling me I have scoliosis since I was very little. I think I was born with it. It does not hurt me unless I stand for a very long time, but I was being recorded on camera one time and was told to “STOP LEANING!”, when I really wasn’t leaning intentionally. I feel kind of crooked/off-center sometimes, if I pay attention to it while I walk, and I might squirm a bit in my seat to change the position of my back. I saw a doctor, but he decided not to do anything about it. (Really?!) I wonder if it will ever go away, or if that’s too much to hope for.

    • Penguin

      I honestly don’t even know who to believe anymore. I’ve seen 5 doctors for this and all of them contradict each other. I’m only 14 and I already don’t believe in doctors anymore. I just convince myself its not a big deal and pretend it doesn’t exist. It never goes away though.

  • Ria

    It CAN be dangerous. It can KILL.

    I was almost paralyzed from my scoliosis when I was twelve and had to have all but three of my vertebrae fused, and the surgery ended up taking longer than expected–I was on the table for 10 hours. Before the surgery my curves in my spine were 90 and 95. Now they’re 45 and 50, but I’ve had complications in the past seven years that required my rods to be removed (a 6 hour surgery, and another surgery due to an infection that nearly reached my heart). My ribs are pressing into my lungs. I’m not in as much danger as before, where nearly every internal organ could have been punctured had i cracked a rib, but it’s hard to breathe and on my left my ribs and hips touch if I’m not careful.

    I’m sorry for complaining, but the fact is scoliosis can be a living hell, and in rare cases even deadly. There’s a few others out there in worse conditions than me, and the fact that most people I meet have no idea what this is really peeves me. I don’t want pity, but I’ve had people tell me to suck it up and that I must be a drug addict, since I have prescription pain pills I have to carry with me. Even those who have a mild case deserve some applause for dealing with a spine that thinks it’s a snake.

    It’s horrible and you’re so damn tough to fight it.

  • Emily


    I am currently a 2nd year Contour Design Student and I am looking into how having scoliosis affects your lingerie. I have had spinal correction surgery myself 5 years ago and so am aware of some of the problems but would really appreciate your comments.

    Thank you,


  • AlixMary

    I have scoliosis, a 30 degree angle which is one off from being able to get surgery. I found out in middle school I think- my dad noticed one shoulder was tilted more then the other. About 8th grade summer I went to have it checked out because of the back and hips pains.
    I still haven’t got a brace or an update on how it is, but I still get a lot of pain when I sweep, put dishes away or just walk for a long period of time.
    It really sucks because my torso is so wide because of it. I wouldn’t want a metal or plastic pole shoved up my spine. They said the pain was just the back muscles- which I think is stupid. Thought building up muscles in the back helps a bit but it still hurts a lot when having to bend down or carry heavy things.

  • JJ

    I HAD scoliosis, I got checked out at my middle school and was told that I had it and to seek a Doctor. I went and they said since I had already started puberty that I cannot wear a brace so I had to have surgery. I had the surgery when I was 12 and I’m 23 now, I can say that even though the recovery was awful to go through, I’m relieved that I no longer have to worry about it. My younger sister got checked out after I did but she was still young, and they told her she had to wear a brace, some people think that as long as its not severe now that its fine to not do anything about it, but I personally think the longer you wait, the worse it can get with age. I’ve seen people my age and older who never did anything about it, and there hunched over completely that when they’re walking, they’re most of the time facing the floor because of their posture.

  • CloverTea123

    I have scoliosis and yes from to time to time, my back hurts,
    but it’s not that bad.
    I do feel bad for the others who have it worse than me,
    but I don’t think it’s that dangerous

  • Hannah

    I’ve had scoliosis since I was five… I had to wear a back brace 23 hours a day. It sucked, but I didn’t know anything else. I didn’t get much exercise, and I had a habit of not wearing my brace as often as I should. Eventually, my curve got so bad I had to have surgery. I had surgery last June. It sucked recovering, but now I don’t have to wear a brace, and I don’t have to worry about health issues.

  • Sabrina

    I have scoliosis, I have a 23 degree curve in the lower area of my back, but it is not that noticeable.I just have really bad lower back pain and I have to go back in a month to get a brace which you have to wear for 20 hours a day.

  • Holly

    I am recently braced from having scoliosis and it has made my life a nightmare. Not only do i have to wear this thing that goes from my shoulders to my thighs with lots of buttons and velcro, but i also have to go on a diet because scoliotics are prone to having a bad digestive system. high protein, low carbs and no sugar. i have to drink 2 smoothies a day with this nasty powder in it to also somehow help. i ALSO have to do a weird exercise and go to the chiropractor 3 times a week. my clothes don’t fit right, i can hardly walk up the stairs at school, i can’t sleep at night bc it is so uncomfortable etc etc etc. i have to wear this thing for 18 months and boy am i not looking forward to it. although it will be one of the hardest things I’ve had to face, it will make my pain and my unevenness go away and so i pray it will all be worth it. ~Holly

  • ursulamb

    I have scoliosis… it’s not so bad and it usually doesn’t get worse after you get your period (which I have gotten). I don’t need a brace or anything but I was so scared after I found out I had it. Did anyone else read Deenie by Judie Blume?

  • MagneticPudding

    I myself am affected by scoliosis. I also have a condition commonly known as “sway back” so it’s really hard to feel good about myself as a teenage girl. You can see my spin sticking out midway down my back and it’s even worse when I bend over. It’s because of this that I don’t like to wear bathing suits or anything that might show how messed up my back really is. But it’s not only my body image that is affected. It’s also my day to day life. Because of the state of my back I can’t do any heavy lifting of any sort and it’s a struggle to do yard work when I can’t even pick up that log and carry it off. I just want to know if there are other girls out in the GURL community that feel the same way I do.

  • Lucy Carson

    I have to tell you, it’s not that bad. Havingscoliosis. Most people who have it don’t need braces. But, people arealways horrified when I tell them; like scared for my life.

  • Brianna

    I have really bad scoliosis and I’m fortunate enough for it to not be extremely noticeable. Even though I always have back pain, I’m happy that I won’t have to get surgery, at least not now anyways.

  • Sophia

    My best friend was diagnosed with scoliosis when we were 11. she was not allowed to have a normal backpack she had to have a rolling one. She had to do special exercise every day to keep her spine from moving anymore and when she was sleeping she had to wheere a brace. Luckley though her brace was just like a brace you culd get at the drug store so it was not bulcky and hard to sleep with. she still has it and she still has to do all these things.