How to screen for scoliosis

Mar 13, 2018

A frequent question that we receive here at the clinic is how to check a child for scoliosis. Defined as a lateral curvature of the spine, scoliosis affects 3-5% of children with varying severity. To screen, we start with the patient standing up straight facing away so that the back is visible. Starting from the feet upwards to the head, take a look at each joint line noting areas of discrepancy.

First, take a look at the ankles and feet, note excessive rolling in at the ankle which tends to reduce the support of the pelvis and other joints. If there is excessive pronation on one side, it will affect pelvis and shoulder height. From here, we take a look at the hips to see if they are level. Uneven hips can affect the joints above and below and can also be an indication of spine curvature. Moving up to the shoulders and traps, if one side is higher or “hiked” we examine further. Take a look at the ears, are they level? If so we continue, if not we continue to examine and look where the deviation exists.

Next, we have the patient bend over as if to touch their toes and take a look at the spine in this position. Take note of any deviation of the spine to the left or right and also prominence of the muscles groups along side of it.

Finally, if there are large discrepancies or imbalances, it is time to evaluate treatment options. Often times small imbalances will correct themselves throughout puberty with the inclusion of physical activity. More mild to severe cases need to be treated and monitored more closely.

Give us a call if you have any questions! 303-424-9549