Scoliosis: Definition and What It Is

Medically and clinically reviewed by Jonathan Lee, MD and Maureen Lu, PT, DPT

Scoliosis Definition and Meaning

Scoliosis refers to a curvature of the spine, which often develops into an S-shaped or C-shaped curve that differs from the spine’s typical shape. Scoliosis most often becomes noticeable in children and adolescents, and it’s believed to be a result of a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors. 

Scoliosis Symptoms

Scoliosis doesn’t always cause symptoms, especially in milder cases where the change in the spine’s curvature is minimal. However, if the condition progresses, you may notice uneven shoulders, where one shoulder blade becomes more prominent than the other, or an uneven waist, where one hip appears higher than the other. In severe cases, scoliosis can lead to back pain.

Scoliosis: A Hinge Health Perspective

It can be discouraging to experience changes in your spine and back, particularly those that can affect its appearance and function like scoliosis. But remember: The spine is an incredibly strong structure that is responsible for supporting the entire body as well as so many movements that allow us to stand up straight, bend, and twist. 

There’s a lot you can do to support your spine and back and help maintain a healthy posture. Movement, along with targeted exercises to strengthen and stretch the back, can help maintain function and mobility in the spine and manage issues like stiffness and pain.

Scoliosis Treatment

Treatment for scoliosis varies depending on the severity of the curve and the age of the patient. Mild scoliosis may only require regular monitoring with X-rays to observe if the curve is worsening. In cases where the curve is more pronounced, treatment may include wearing a brace, or, in more severe cases, surgery may be advised.

How Physical Therapy Can Help With Scoliosis

Physical therapy can aid in managing back or neck pain related to scoliosis. A physical therapist (PT) can recommend exercises designed to improve spinal mobility, strengthen the muscles supporting the spine, and increase muscle flexibility. This approach is often effective in alleviating pain and improving posture. You can see a physical therapist in person or use a program like Hinge Health to access a PT via telehealth/video visit.

How Hinge Health Can Help You 

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program.

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you. 

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. 

Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you. See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.


  1. Scoliosis in Children and Teens. (2019, March). National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. 

  2. Janicki, J. A., & Alman, B. (2007). Scoliosis: Review of diagnosis and treatment. Paediatrics & Child Health, 12(9), 771–776. doi:10.1093/pch/12.9.771 

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