What is Scoliosis and what symptoms should you look for?

Scoliosis is a condition where there is an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine. This means that when looking at someone from behind, instead of a normal straight spine, there may be an ‘S’ or ‘C” shaped curvature.

There are three main types of Scoliosis

Functional Scoliosis – This means that the spine may appear to be curved, however the curve is a result of an abnormality somewhere else in the body, for example due to poor posture or weak muscles.

Structural Scoliosis – This group of Scoliosis has a known structural cause in the spine, pelvis or lower limbs that may be causing a curvature in the spine. These may be degenerative, traumatic or congenital in nature. 

Idiopathic Scoliosis – Idiopathic Scoliosis is another form of structural scoliosis that occurs spontaneously for no known reason.

Idiopathic Scoliosis can affect people of any age, however most commonly presents in children and adolescent age groups. In fact, Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) is the most common form of Scoliosis in children, making up to 80% of diagnosed cases. AIS more commonly affects females and tends to run in families.

AIS progresses more quickly during the rapid growth periods of the patient. This is because the growth plates in the bones are still open which may allow the bones the grow at different speeds. At the time of skeletal maturity, when these growth plates have fused, the curve progression often significantly slows.

Signs and Symptoms

Often patients with AIS have no pain or neurologic dysfunction and may look aligned when viewed from the side. However, there are a few tell tail signs that a person may have scoliosis. These include:

  • Poor posture
  • A rib humping – from the back, one side of the rib cage may appear to be more prominent than the other.
  • Shoulder height asymmetry – one shoulder may appear to be higher than the other
  • Waistline asymmetry – one hip may look to be higher than the other, which may also cause one leg to look longer than the other
  • Tilting of the head and/or eye line
  • Clothes fitting awkwardly or hanging unevenly
  • Sidewards curvature observed in the spine when looking at the back

Other symptoms may include

  • Muscle weakness
  • Mild back pain

Some symptoms of moderate or severe scoliosis include changes in walking, reduced range of motion, trouble breathing, cardiovascular problems, moderate to severe pain, lower self-esteem.

A physical examination usually includes a postural screening, as well as a spinal, orthopaedic and neurological examination. If Scoliosis is suspected, a standing full spine x-ray or E.O.S. scan will be taken from both the back and the side to visualise the spinal curve. Any curvature greater than 10 degrees (Cobb angle) is considered a Scoliosis.

If you are a friend has scoliosis or has a family history of scoliosis, contact Ohana Chiropractic to book an appointment.




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