Pediatric Scoliosis Symptoms & Screenings

Signs of Scoliosis in Kids & Adolescents

Signs of idiopathic scoliosis typically begin in the preteen years and is more severe in girls than boys. Parents may notice a fullness on one side of their child’s back when bent over or that his or her clothes don’t “hang right.” Early signs and symptoms may include:

  • A shoulder or shoulder blade (scapula) that is higher than the other
  • A shoulder blade more prominent than the other
  • A curve in the spine or midline of the back
  • The head is not centered with the rest of the body
  • An increased space between one arm and the body (uneven waistline)
  • Uneven hips
  • On forward bend, a “rib hump” or one area of the back is higher than the other side

Back pain, leg pain, and changes in bowel and bladder habits are not commonly associated with idiopathic scoliosis. A child experiencing these types of symptoms requires immediate medical evaluation by a physician.


Pediatric Scoliosis Screening Recommendations

Download the Scoliosis Postural Screening Program

Although only 5 percent of those with scoliosis will require treatment, scoliosis screening is important in order to detect it early and begin treatment if necessary. Optimally, children should be screened yearly in grades five through eight. Scoliosis screenings can be conducted in a group setting in private areas of a school, such as a locker room or nurse’s office. Experts recommend screeners use the hands on/clothes on method of screening. With this method, the screener places her hands on the child’s shoulders and hips to test for symmetry and requests that the child do a simple “forward bend.” The child keeps his or her clothes on to protect privacy and decrease anxiety.

Since scoliosis may develop at any time before growth is completed, it is important that your child’s spine be checked regularly until they have finished growing.

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