The word „scoliosis” is derived from the Greek ‘scolios’, meaning crooked. Usually the term scoliosis designates a sideward curve of the spine, but the current definition describes a three-dimensional spinal deformation with sideward curvature of more than 10 degrees coupled with vertebral rotation or torsion.
The flexibility of the spine in the area of the curve is reduced. This is compensated by the formation of secondary curves of the spine as well as the displacement of the shoulders, head, rib cage, pelvis in opposite directions in order to maintain balance. The outline of the body acquires the typical rib hump and waist asymmetries associated with scoliosis. These are not only evident when standing still, but also appear in functional activities such as sitting, walking, carrying, reaching, bending, as well as breathing and performing complex movement patterns.
The term „scoliosis” is most frequently associated with idiopathic* scoliosis and in this text will designate „adolescent idiopathic scoliosis” unless otherwise stated.
(*Idiopathic – of unknown cause)