For purposes of location and orientation, the human body can be divided into three planes. The sagittal plane divides the body vertically into left and right sides; the coronal (or frontal) plane divides the body into front (anterior) and back (posterior) sections; and the axial (or transverse) plane divides the body horizontally into upper and lower parts. Adult spinal deformity can be found in problems with one plane or a combination of planes.

Scoliosis, for example, is a three-dimensional deformity that can affect all three planes. This abnormal curvature of the spine may be congenital (present at birth), idiopathic (on-set after birth) or may develop as a secondary symptom of another condition, such as cerebral palsy, spinal muscular atrophy or due to physical trauma.

Kyphosis, also known as Scheuermann’s disease or hunchback, is a curving of the spine that results in a bowing of the back. This spinal deformity may be caused by degenerative disease (such as arthritis), developmental problems or trauma. In adults, it is often the result of fractures caused by osteoporosis or the slipping of one vertebra forward on another (spondylolisthesis), although there are numerous other diseases and conditions that can result in kyphosis.

Fixed Sagittal Imbalance (FSI) is a condition in which the spine is not mobile or correctable, preventing an individual from standing upright.


Depending on type of problem and severity, physicians may recommend one or several of the following treatments for patients with adult spinal deformities: bracing, medications, physical therapy and/or surgery.


The correct combination of the above treatments may be successful in restoring normal curvature of the spine, allowing patients to stand up straight and return to normal activities.