Scoliosis factsheet


Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine.  The term scoliosis comes from the Greek word 'skolios', which means curved or bent. 

There are two forms of scoliosis, postural and structural.  

  • a postural scoliosis is a curve that is due to not standing up straight due to pain, unequal leg lengths or slouching. A postural scoliosis can be self-corrected
  • a structural scoliosis is a curve that bends to the side, and also rotates on its vertical axis. These curves often have cosmetic and physiological changes that can have long-term effects. A structural scoliosis does not self-correct

 Signs and symptoms

Scoliosis may appear as

  • one shoulder higher 
  • rib asymmetry 
  • deeper waist on one side 
  • one hip more prominent 
  • uneven shoulder blades 
  • trunk shift to the side. 


Your child’s doctor will be able to make a diagnosis, based on your child's signs and symptoms and/or after any appropriate tests. 



In young children, under 6 years of age, a plaster cast can be put on under a general anaesthetic to help push the spine straight.  The cast is worn for about 6 weeks before it is removed.  Some children may need several casts one after another. 


A thoraco-lumbo-sacral orthosis (TLSO) is a medical device that is designed to push on the body to prevent the curve from getting worse while your child is still growing. A TLSO is sometimes called a brace and is suitable for curves with an angle of 20-40o. 

A TSLO is usually made from plastic, and is worn under clothes for 16-20 hours per day. There are many types of TLSO and the style will depend on a thorough assessment of your child and their curve. 


For curves where a TLSO is not suitable, your child may need surgery to stabilise the curve. Surgery involves some form of internal fixation of the spine to stop the curve getting worse over time.  There are many techniques that may be used and your surgeon will discuss these with you. 

Last updated Wednesday 24th January 2024


This factsheet is provided for general information only. It does not constitute health advice and should not be used to diagnose or treat any health condition.

Please consult with your doctor or other health professional to make sure this information is right for you and/or your child.

The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network does not accept responsibility for inaccuracies or omissions, the interpretation of the information, or for success or appropriateness of any treatment described in the factsheet.

© Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network 2024