Scoliosis is not a life threatening condition! So why is it that the first person you meet is a surgeon? – good question.
The causes are not well known, hence the name ‘Idiopathic’ (of unknown cause) there are many theories but it tends to develop during large growth spurts.
It is a 3 dimensional change in posture which during growth leads to a boney angle (deformed change in the vertebrae) that is measured on the X-ray. More than 10 degrees cobb angle is the diagnosis of scoliosis.
Scoliosis causes negative cosmetic physical effects in appearance (a shoulder blade can rise, a waist looks asymmetrical and when bending forward one side of the ribs rises upwards), not to mention the consequences on self-image and confidence and scoliosis can (but not always) cause pain through compensations in posture and load.
It can be improved with Schroth Best Practice physiotherapy and Gensingen Cheneau braces. It does not always need to lead to surgery, but surgery is the main treatment offered in some health systems. There is evidence to support Schroth-based home programs part of PSSE (pattern or physiotherapeutic -scoliosis-specific-exercises) or PSSR approaches (pattern specific scoliosis rehabilitation).
There is an increasing acceptance that conservative approaches have a role in scoliosis and can be successful in treating idiopathic scoliosis.