Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) is a condition in which a person develops a curve in their spinal column that is greater than ten degrees. Most people with AIS develop their spinal curve early on in puberty, especially when they experience growth spurts. AIS is not an uncommon condition for people to develop, with roughly two percent of people having AIS. Interestingly, AIS is more common in women than in men. Thankfully, AIS is generally not a serious, life-threatening condition, and most people who have AIS live just as long as people who don’t have AIS. People with AIS also have about the same quality of life as people without the condition. As you might have figured from its name, AIS is an idiopathic condition, meaning that no one knows exactly what causes people to develop the condition. While scientists have yet to pinpoint the exact causes of AIS, researchers have focused on how genetic, mechanical, and metabolic factors in the body can help to cause AIS. Genetic researchers have found that many genes that affect structures in the cell are mutated in people with AIS, whilst also finding that people with AIS have mutated receptors that impair cellular signaling. Researchers believe that these mutations play roles in the development of the spinal curve in AIS. Other researchers have suggested that differences in brain structure, nerves, and the muscles around the spine, allow the spine to curve in patients with AIS. Still, some other scientists have found that certain molecules produced in the body’s metabolism affect bone growth and development, and can play roles in causing AIS. Hopefully, by learning more about the causes of AIS, researchers can work to develop better treatment and preventative measures for the condition.
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