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Scoliosis Diagnosis

  • Scoliosis may be detected by your family doctor while performing a routine check-up. If necessary, it will be confirmed with an X-ray of your back.
  • School screening, unfortunately, is not very common in most countries but it is the best way to detect scoliosis early. Usually, this is done using an instrument call a scoliometer, which is a simple angle finder or inclinometer that measures rotations of the spine/rib cage. A nurse, or other healthcare professional with special training, can check a child within two minutes using a scoliometer. It is simple to use and it is even possible for a parent to check their own child following some simple instructions.
  • It is important to follow-up on the deformation evolution, especially during childhood. This surveillance must be done by an orthopaedic doctor through regular check-ups, every 3 to 6 months, depending on the severity of the curve, the age of the child and the family history. These check-ups include a physical examination and an X-ray, if necessary.
  • Scoliosis is quantified by the measurement of the angle of your spine curvature on the X-ray. This is called the Cobb angle.
  • General non-surgical treatment indications are: skeletally immature children with curves of 15º or more combined with either proven progression (5º or more in six months or less) or strong family history.

Should you recognise any of these possible symptoms, contact your family doctor.

Normal (fig. 1)
  • head centred over mid-buttocks
  • shoulders level
  • shoulder blades level, with equal prominence
  • hips level and symmetrical
  • equal distance between arms and body
Possible Scoliosis (fig. 2)
  • head alignment to one side of mid buttocks
  • one shoulder higher
  • one shoulder blade higher with possible prominence
  • one hip more prominent than the other
  • unequal distance between arms and body
Normal (fig. 3)
  • both sides of upper and lower back symmetrical
  • hips level and symmetrical
Possible Scoliosis (fig. 4)
  • one side of rib cage and/or the lower back showing uneven symmetry
Normal (fig. 5)
  • even and symmetrical on both sides of the upper and lower back
Possible Scoliosis (fig. 6)
  • unequal symmetry of the upper back, lower back or both