Many of us remember that day in gym class every year when the school nurse screened us for scoliosis. Many Minnesota students get these checks today, and with good reason: scoliosis is the nation’s most common spinal deformity and affects approximately 3 percent of Americans.

While scoliosis is fairly prevalent, many of us don’t know how to spot it in our growing kids. In the spirit of Scoliosis Awareness Month, we wanted to share the basic facts about this treatable condition and what to look for in your own kids so you know when to schedule an appointment with your pediatrician.

What is scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a mild to severe curvature of the spine in a c or s shape. It can also cause individual vertebrae to rotate. Scoliosis typically develops during adolescence between the ages of 10 and 15, but infants and adults can also develop the condition. Scoliosis affects males and females, but young women and girls are more likely to develop severe curvatures that require braces or surgery to correct.

Despite being a common condition, most cases of scoliosis do not have obvious causes. Scoliosis is not caused by playing sports, carrying heavy things, slouching, or having uneven leg lengths.

How do I know my child has scoliosis?

Little boy with scoliosis in rehabilitation clinic.
Little boy with scoliosis in a rehabilitation clinic.

Students get annual scoliosis checks in school because early detection can slow or stop spines from curving. Children’s bones are still developing and can often be guided into proper place with a brace. The annual school check is your first line of defense against scoliosis.

Most schools use the Adam’s Forward Bend Test, where your child will bend over at the waist with straight knees and their arms hanging toward the floor. The nurse looks for any signs of asymmetry, from humps and unevenness to shoulders resting at different heights or a hip sticking out.

If you notice asymmetry in your child’s shoulders or hips, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your pediatrician. They will take x-rays of your child’s entire spine and measure any curvature for severity. Depending on these findings, your pediatrician may recommend physical therapy for minor curves or a brace or even surgery for the most severe cases.

A special offer for your student

The physical therapists and chiropractic doctors at Life Wellness Center can help catch and treat scoliosis before curvatures become severe. For the month of June, when kids come in for a check-up and mention our special scoliosis check, we’ll donate $20 to Simon Says Give, a kid-founded and operated nonprofit. Schedule your child’s appointment today.

For the month of June, get 20% off our Posture Medic Bands.