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11/4/17blog post

do you know the signs of scoliosis?

With school back in session, your kids may undergo a simple scoliosis test during gym class. This routine spine check may seem like just a yearly task to check off the list, but it is an important test for kids.

Scoliosis occurs when the vertebrae in the back form a curved line instead of being straight. Sometimes they also rotate (twist), like a corkscrew. Two percent of girls and .5 percent of boys have scoliosis and it tends to run in families. Usually, the cause is unknown and occurs in otherwise healthy kids and adolescents. Small curves usually don’t cause problems. But a curve that gets worse can be bad for a person’s health and cause pain.

“A lot of times scoliosis gets missed because the signs are so subtle,” says Molly Depoorter, RN, ‎spine clinic coordinator at Dayton Children’s. “Signs of scoliosis usually appear between the ages of 10 and 18. You also need to watch for spine curvature during growth spurts. One month, a kid’s spine can be completely fine and the next month it could be curved—all because of a growth spurt.”

When monitoring for scoliosis, check for these signs:

1. Skirts and pants are somewhat lopsided.
2. One shoulder blade may be higher or more prominent than the other.
3. Extra space may exist between the arm and the body when arms are hanging at the sides.
4. One hip may appear to be higher or more prominent than the other.
5. The head is not centered over the pelvis.
6. When bending over so the back (spine) is horizontal, one side of the back may appear higher than the other.

If you notice any of these signs, contact your child’s pediatrician. A pediatrician can check the degree of curvature and decide if it is appropriate to refer your child to an orthopedic physician. Curvature that is 10–20 degrees will be referred back to a doctor. If the curvature is 20–40 degrees, the physician may consider a back brace. If the curvature is greater than 40 degrees, the physician may consider surgery. The physician will also continue to monitor a kid’s growth every six months until he or she is done growing.

Monitoring your kids frequently for scoliosis can be a quick and easy, but important, task! Dayton Children’s also offers a free scoliosis screening program for area schools. If you are interested in bringing this program to your kid’s school, please contact Molly Depoorter, R.N., spine clinic coordinator at or 937-641-5829.