Posted in: Historical Insights

Have you ever wondered how or why it was decided that Cobb angle had to measure greater than 10 degrees in order for a spinal curvature to be formally diagnosed as a scoliosis?  Or why bracing is recommended at 20 degrees, and surgery at 40?

To answer this question, we look to an article published back in 1977 in the Clinical Journal of Orthopedics by Dr. William Kane, titled “Scoliosis prevalence: a call for a statement of terms.”

First, Dr. William Kane MD explained the problem that led to his publication of the article:

“Recently published prevalence studies of scoliosis reveal a disconcerting variability, largely due to the use of different diagnostic “cutting points,” which are frequently unstated.”

Stating the problem in other words, scientists and doctors were using different cut-off points for what they considered to be a “real” scoliosis.  This led to different points of view, where some individuals were claiming that, out of every 100 people, 16 had scoliosis, and others insisting that only 3 people out of a 1,000 had scoliosis.  Furthermore, scoliosis screenings were detecting either very few cases of scoliosis, or quite a few, depending upon who was performing the screening and what their standards were.  Dr. Kane was attempting to standardize the management of scoliosis by introducing specific points at which observation, bracing, and surgery would be recommended.

To solve this problem, he used a form of statistical analysis called a “log normal distribution,” which was a graph intended to predict what the prevalence of scoliosis of a specific degree would be in any given population.  He accepted as fact that 5 people out of 1,000 would have a 20 degree Cobb angle, 2 would have a 30 degree Cobb angle, and 1 would have a 40 degree Cobb angle.  He was then able to extrapolate to conclude that 23 out of 1,000 would have a curvature of 10 degrees or more, and 77 would have a curve of 5 degrees or more.

Dr. Kane recognized the arbitrary nature of the cut-off points he selected, when he stated:

“To further define the adolescent scoliosis population, I would like to present certain statements which are admittedly arbitrary and may be contested; at the least, they offer a clear-cut basis for further discussion:

  1. Scoliosis of 20 degrees in an immature individual is deserving of treatment.
  2. Immature individuals with curves approaching 20 degrees are “at risk”, and should be observed regularly; in my opinion, this means any immature individual with a curve over 10 degrees.”

Dr. Kane’s quest to standardize the definition of scoliosis was a noble one, and certainly necessary.  However, his first point (“scoliosis of 20 degrees in an immature individual is deserving of treatment”) is worth a closer look.

We can see today how the consequences of this policy have carried through the years; to this day, traditional orthopedic management of scoliosis involves waiting to brace until 20 degrees.  If asked, many doctors might tell you they refrain from prescribing bracing until the scoliosis has progressed to this point to spare a teenager the social and emotional distress that can accompany wearing a brace; others, perhaps out of the belief that a mild scoliosis has little effect upon a person’s health.

But the bottom line is that the reason why an 11 degree curvature is called a scoliosis, but a 9 degree curve is not – or why treatment might be recommended at 20 degrees, but not yet at 12 – is not based around scientific evidence showing that a person’s health is harmed by a 15 degree Cobb angle but a 5 degree Cobb angle is harmless.  It’s not based around data showing that 10 degree curves will not respond to treatment, but a 20 degree curve will.  It began with one scientist’s “admittedly arbitrary” opinion, and the tradition of treating scoliosis in this manner continues to this day.

It is interesting to consider what the consequences of adopting a Cobb angle of 5 degrees might have been; indeed, Dr. Kane considers this in his paper:

“The consequences of a public pronouncement that the scoliosis rate is 160 per 1000 are considerable.  With a total population of 211 million, it would mean that 33 million people in the United States have scoliosis and that it is as prevalent as hypertension or diabetes mellitus.”

Perhaps more interestingly, even back in 1977, Dr. Kane was concerned how the media presented scoliosis in articles such as “A Dangerous Curve,” published in TIME magazine in 1975.  The media often focuses upon those individual cases which it considers “news-worthy,” which are often outliers or extreme examples of the condition, and not necessarily representative of the common experience with scoliosis.  It’s quite obvious that not every case of scoliosis progresses to the point where it becomes “life-threatening,” as stated in this TIME article, and he was concerned that diagnosing too many individuals with scoliosis could be seen as misinformation, leading people to, “reject all information regarding the problem of scoliosis, rationalizing its rejection by deciding that the information provided by the experts in scoliosis is incorrect and contrary to easily observable facts.”

But now, almost 40 years later, is there reason to re-visit Dr. Kane’s conclusions?  Do we have new information to suggest that revising traditional practice might be appropriate?  Here we have a quote from a study that was published in November of 2015 in Spine, one of the world’s most prestigious scientific journals:

“Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is present in 3-5% of the general population.  Large curves are associated with increased pain and reduced quality of life.  However, no information is available on the impact of smaller curves.”

Looking at 3,184 fifteen year-olds, they found small curves in just over 10 percent.  They found that, “those with spinal curves were 42% more likely to report back pain… had more days off school, and were more likely to avoid activities that caused their pain.”

They concluded:

“[S]mall scoliotic curves may be less benign than previously thought.  Teenagers with small curves may not present to care, but are nonetheless reporting increased pain, more days off school, and avoidance of activities.  These data suggest we should reconsider current scoliosis screening and treatment practices.” [emphasis added]

This is a very significant finding.  It suggests that we should re-consider whether or not small, mild cases of scoliosis should truly continue to be ignored and dismissed as nothing more than a minor cosmetic issue with no effects upon health.  While bracing may not be appropriate for these smaller curves, perhaps efforts could be devoted to developing a treatment method that can reduce back pain and improve the quality of life for people suffering from scoliosis…

(*cough cough* CLEAR chiropractic! *cough cough*)

Although 10 degrees is the cut-off point for scoliosis and 20 degrees is when bracing is recommended, it is important to emphasize that these are arbitrary numbers.  An individual with a very small curve CAN have pain that is directly attributable to scoliosis.  Kurt Cobain of the band Nirvana suffered from a mild scoliosis which caused him a great deal of pain, perhaps leading him to self-medicate and eventually to his early death by drug overdose.

Don’t let scoliosis slow you down – even mild curves can have an impact upon your life.  Contact your local CLEAR doctor today!

110 comments on “Why is 10 degrees considered a scoliosis?”

  1. 1
    jerlyn on February 15, 2017

    I undergo x-ray and found out 12 degree cobbs angle.is there a possibility that the 12 degree angle may be loosen?

    1. 2
      Dr. Josh Woggon on February 16, 2017

      It is difficult to predict which cases of scoliosis will get worse. It involves looking at a lot of factors, like age, skeletal maturity, the type of scoliosis curve, and the alignment of the spine in other dimensions – as well as many other things. A 12 degree curve is considered very mild, and typically the CLEAR protocols are very effective in reducing and stabilizing these small curves.

  2. 3
    Chelsi on March 4, 2017

    Great article, however, you may want to edit the part about Kurt Cobain’s death. He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. While his drug use could be attributed to a pain addiction from possible scoliosis pain, his death, was not.

    1. 4
      Dr. Josh Woggon on March 7, 2017

      I use the example of Kurt Cobain to illustrate how the pain from even a mild scoliosis can be so severe, that it can lead to depression and self-medication… sometimes with extremely dangerous substances. Scoliosis did not kill him, but if he had found a way to manage the pain other than chemicals, the story of his life might have been very different.

  3. 5
    Ali on March 5, 2017

    I went doctors they took X-ray lying on side. I am currently 25. After X-ray doctor got results he stated I got levoscoliosis only one vertebrae I did research to find out if is. Bad or not and each research kept relating to degree I don’t have a degree on myn doctor said is very mild is gentle so basically the result was gentle scoliosis I do not have a degree I got sent to phisiopherapy not because I have back pain I don’t have back pain, I sinply went there for knowledge. How ever the phisiopherapist didn’t even know what levoscolisis was I was shocked, and here I am doing research trying to find information that’s related to my problem I just get back pain lower back pain some
    Times usually when I stand for too long other wise I don’t have lower back pain. That was the reason why I want doctors and doctor send me for X-ray on the paper it stated always had back pain. I am just stating everything from A to Z to give clear idea to the reader I am really confused And stressed.

    This is the first time I am
    Leaving a comment online,

    Also one more thing I want to confirm before I went Gp for an X-ray I done full back mri to check my back and it all came out clear with the doctor being really happy with lower back as my disc spaces was large he said disc are looking good etc. The reason why I did MRI on whole back is because I have health enxiety not good but I am a bit better now.

    Please help me don’t care what it cost all I want is just information.

    Really apologise for a long essay

    Thank you for your time
    To read.

    1. 6
      Dr. Josh Woggon on March 7, 2017

      It’s good to hear that your disc spacing is large. One other thing that may be helpful to understand is the difference between pathoanatomy and pathophysiology. Pathoanatomy is a defect in a structure – like a fracture in a bone. It’s usually very easy to see on a static image like an x-ray or MRI. Pathophysiology, however, is a defect in function and how the joints move – this is not something that can easily be seen on a static image. Chiropractors are often better trained to recognize these types of movement disorders than doctors who rely more upon prescribing pharmaceuticals to treat pain.

  4. 7
    Ali on March 5, 2017

    Sorry I didn’t mention I didn’t go to a normal doctor I went to a specialist for a full back mri, 8-9 months before I went to my local Gp for an X-ray. Apologise for two comments as I couldn’t re edit the text

  5. 8
    Ali on March 5, 2017

    I left a comment earlier but now that I checked the site is gone . Hope I am not leaving two comments.

    I had an MRI scan of full back 9
    Months ago with specialist and it all come out good, the specialist did mention some think else he did say I got an extra disc in lower back. how ever I went to see gp (general practice) not to long ago and had an X-ray done for lower back as it hurts when I am on my feet for long time, just wanted to get doctors apponion. He sent me for an X-ray and had an X-ray done on lower back. Results showed I got gentle levoscoliosis, doctor didn’t give me much information he referred me
    To phisiopherapist, I did not have a back pain constantly to see phisiopherapist therefore I went there to obtain information only. However he did not provide me with much information as he didn’t even know what levoscolisosis is. I didn’t go back to my doctor I did ask him to what degree my scoliosis is. He mentioned it does not have a degree. Is gentle. So I tried search for scoliosis less then 5 degree, I did not come across much information. This is really stressing me, I need some answers about my condition, the mri I did with specialist 9 months ago did not show anything serious as the doctor stated I got healthy lower back.

    I do not care how much it will cost me Please provide me with some information as I am so stressed.

    It will be very kind of you to respond back to me
    And with high hopes hoping I can get a respond
    Thank you for your time to read my message

    1. 9
      Dr. Josh Woggon on March 7, 2017

      Hello Ali,
      In order to be classified as a true scoliosis, the Cobb angle must measure greater than 10 degrees. In addition, there should also be signs of rotation (Lovett positive), and the curve must have a structural component (e.g., it does not disappear when you bend to the side).
      It’s important to understand that even a small curve – even one that is below 10 degrees, and not truly considered to be a scoliosis – can be a source of pain and other problems. Many cases of degenerative scoliosis (where the curve is caused by degeneration in the spinal discs) fall into this category.
      If you reach out to a CLEAR Doctor, they can begin a file on you. They will ask you many detailed questions about your health condition, and also ask you to send them copies of the MRI, x-rays and medical records. Once they have this information, they may be able to help you understand more about the cause of your pain, and what treatments might be beneficial. I hope the information on this site helps to guide you in your quest for answers; in particular, I am very proud of our Glossary (a lot of work went into it!), as I think this helps many people to understand the meanings of the many complicated and confusing terms that are often used by healthcare professionals: https://www.clear-institute.org/learning-about-scoliosis/glossary/
      Please do not hesitate to let us know if there is anything else we can do to help!

  6. 10
    Ali on March 7, 2017

    My general practice is. Not allowed to give me the c ray scan how ever I do have the mri scan that I took before. I am assuming you are a clear doctor am not to familiar with clear doctors aswell. If possible how can I reach you to get some
    Information and also examine my lower back to see if is serious or not. Even if is not serious I would like to come visit you if you are a clear doctor to check my back and tell me what you think also recommend what activities I am allowed to do and what activities I am not allowed as I go
    Gym 5 x a week I work on lower back abdominals obliques all body parts and I have no idea what damage and what doesn’t damage me I am just doing these activities assuming I am ok with it I have no pain doing them so I do it.

    And most of all I was not expecting a respond and I got that thank you very much for your time to type every think and the time to read out my message

    Just one last thing I would like to ask you if you do not mind if my scoliosis don’t have a degree as in is very small what does that mean. In other words is it some think serious of course I do. Need to watch posture and take care of my self but other then that is it a serious matter ?

    1. 11
      Dr. Josh Woggon on March 8, 2017

      You can find a list of all of the CLEAR doctors here: https://www.clear-institute.org/find-a-doctor/ and also more information about sports & physical activities here: https://www.clear-institute.org/living-with-scoliosis/scoliosis-exercises/sports-and-activities/
      Years ago, doctors dismissed mild scoliosis as unimportant and unworthy of treatment. New research has shown, in truth, a mild scoliosis can restrict the body’s ability to exercise and perform at its full potential, results in an increased risk of pain, and results in more days missed from school/work. Just like each person is unique, each case of scoliosis is unique. It’s very important to consider the details of each case individually; a “mild” case of scoliosis in one person could cause more problems in them than a “severe” case might cause in another.

  7. 12
    Siti Mariam Abd Gani on May 23, 2017

    Can I know the term for Cobb less than 10 degrees. We know that more than 10 degrees is called scoliosis? what the term if it’s a 9 or 8 degree? Any scientific or common term. Thank you.

    1. 13
      Dr. Josh Woggon on May 24, 2017

      Generally, a Cobb angle of less than 10 degrees is referred to as a lateral lean or a sideways tilt to the spine.

  8. 14
    Willie on May 25, 2017

    My 2 year old granddaughter was diagnosed at 8 months as having scoliosis, hypotonia and possible Tethered Spine. She had an X-ray in March and she had a 15 degree right cover thoractic curve and she is due back for another X-ray in September. I am concerned because she is falling a lot and she is twisting more to the right. She is a twin born at 34 weeks. Several doctors are saying he falling is due to low muscle tone not the scoliosis. What should I do. I don’t want to wait until it is too late to do something about her problems.

    1. 15
      Dr. Josh Woggon on May 26, 2017

      The triad of scoliosis, hypotonia (low muscle tone), and tethered spine (sometimes called tethered cord, or Arnold Chiari malformation) is a distressingly common one in scoliosis. The CLEAR protocols typically are only effective in patients ages 3-4 or older, as they require active participation with the exercises and other therapies. However, there are some basic adjustments which could be helpful (particularly what’s called upper cervical corrective care – this might be helpful with the balance issues as well), and if you can visit a CLEAR doctor, just two or three visits might be helpful to address any problems with spinal misalignments in the neck, until she’s old enough to do more active therapies. You could also explore the ScoliBrace by Dr. Jeb (which is offered at a few CLEAR clinics); however, I’m not sure I would recommend a standard rigid brace or body cast, as bracing a patient with low muscle tone can sometimes be problematic.
      Please keep in mind these are all just suggestions; meeting with a CLEAR doctor in person would be your best next step, as they could perform a detailed and comprehensive evaluation, and then point you in the right direction. Our doctors are very familiar with many different scoliosis treatment approaches; if CLEAR is not the ideal treatment for your granddaughter, we can refer you to another doctor who may be able to help!

  9. 16
    Mary Love Baloro on May 31, 2017

    Is 10° dextro scoliosis can work abroad?please give me an answer..thank you

    1. 17
      Dr. Josh Woggon on May 31, 2017

      A 10 degree Cobb angle is right on the verge of even being classified as scoliosis; it is very mild. Dextro means right, and levo means left; so a dextroscoliosis curves to the right, and a levoscoliosis to the left. I’m afraid I’m not sure what you’re asking; could you please rephrase your question?

  10. 18
    Carla on June 23, 2017

    I just got told I have a 9 degree Cobb angle curvature. Should I be worried because I also have a fractured L 1 L2 and 2 and also 2 syrinx on my spinal cord one on my lumbar and one on my thoracic.

    1. 19
      Dr. Josh Woggon on June 26, 2017

      A 9 degree Cobb angle is so mild that it is technically not even considered a scoliosis. However, the presence of the syrinxes and the fractures could cause some complications that might be worth looking into. Your best bet would be to consult with a scoliosis specialist who can review your x-rays and perform a physical exam with you in person. You can find a CLEAR doctor here: https://www.clear-institute.org/find-a-doctor/

  11. 20
    Lani on June 28, 2017

    I just found out my 12 yr. old daughter has a 17degree Thoracic Curvature/ Scoliosis Left and her C5-6 vertebrae are fused (Klippel-Fiel)
    She is and has always been active playing competitive sports. Just in the last month she has started hurting while practicing. Took her to chiropractor where he showed us the spine and vertebrae. Then took her to orthopedic doctor who wants to not do surgery or brace, just keep an eye on it.
    Orthopedic doctor said as long as chiropractor doesn’t hurt and it helps to keep going to him. I have a family member saying when you have fused vertebrae you shouldn’t get adjusted by chiropractor. Your thoughts on everything?

    1. 21
      Dr. Josh Woggon on June 29, 2017

      In my opinion, it’s silly to do nothing and merely “observe” the scoliosis. Your daughter is only 12 and she already has pain from it; where will she be in the future? Chiropractic can be helpful in some mild cases of scoliosis, but it’s important that he does regular exams & annual x-rays to measure progress. Our List of Questions to Ask Your Doctor might help (https://www.clear-institute.org/treating-scoliosis/questions-to-ask-your-doctor/), as well as some of the other blog posts on this site.
      In regards to fusions, your family member is probably thinking of surgical fusions. If an area of the spine has been fused surgically, the chiropractor will know to stay away from these areas and only adjust above and below. In the case of congenital fusions, though, it’s highly unlikely that anything the chiropractor does could have any sort of negative effect. I wouldn’t be concerned about the K-F syndrome or the fused area; scoliosis is commonly associated with K-F, and many CLEAR chiropractors have worked with cases just like this, with amazing results!

  12. 22
    Lani on June 28, 2017

    Just like an earlier post, I posted a question and it showed up but now looking back it’s gone, so I hope I’m not doubling up my question.

    I just found out my 12 year old daughter has a 17degree thoracic curvature/ scoliosis left. Her C5-6 are fused Klippel Fiel.
    My daughter has always been active playing competitive sports. About a month ago she started having upper back pain thinking it was a pulled/ growing muscles we took her to chiropractor. He showed us the X-ray where the spine is curved and vertebrae are fused, which lead us to orthopedic doctor. Orthopedic doctor doesn’t want to do brace or surgery, wants to keep an eye on it, and says along as the chiropractor feels good, doesn’t hurt and seems to help, to keep going. I have a family member that disagrees and says if you have fused vertebrae you should not have the chiropractor adjust you. What are your thoughts on the whole thing?

    1. 23
      Dr. Josh Woggon on June 29, 2017

      We moderate comments to avoid spam and abuse. Sorry for the inconvenience! You should see the answer to your question now. 🙂

  13. 24
    Kiel on July 10, 2017

    I have a dextroscoliosis with 28 degrees. Am i fit to work?

    1. 25
      Dr. Josh Woggon on July 10, 2017

      28 degrees is considered a moderate scoliosis. Some people with moderate scoliosis experience very little pain or restrictions in their function, while others can be in a great deal of pain and suffer from many limitations to their activities. It’s important to evaluate each case on an individual basis for this reason.

  14. 26
    rosemarie curva on July 10, 2017

    my 10 y/o daughter had a levoscoliosis sence birth,had also Atrial SEPTAL deffect,open heart surgery done 2011 when she was at 4y/o,shes wearing a body brace now,sometimes complaining a chest pain wearing a body brace,is it normal?ECG and 2d echo clear.

    1. 27
      Dr. Josh Woggon on July 10, 2017

      This is difficult to answer. The brace could be causing the chest pain, or it could be related to the surgical procedures or the scoliosis. I think it would be important to have her evaluated in person by a scoliosis specialist to understand the source of her pain.

  15. 28
    Mera on August 2, 2017

    I’m 41 female. I had chronic neck and back pain. I finally visited a physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor to help me with my untolerable back pain.
    Here are my X-ray and MRI redults. I’ll much appreciate it if you could provide me with directions on how my treatment plan should be.

    Exam: XR SCOLIOSIS STUDY AP AND LAT

    Indication: Chronic neck and back pain
    Impression:
    Approximately 10 degrees of levoscoliosis measured from T1 and T8 with apex at T6.
    Less than 5 degrees of dextroscoliosis measured from T12 and L5
    No significant disc height loss seen. No malalignment. No fracture seen.

    MRI results
    INDICATION: 41-year-old woman with history of chronic neck and upper back pain
    TECHNIQUE: T1, T2 and STIR imaging of the cervical and thoracic spine
    COMPARISON: Radiograph, scoliosis August 1, 2017

    FINDINGS:
    CERVICAL SPINE MRI
    Alignment: No subluxation.
    Bones: No suspicious marrow abnormality. No bone marrow edema or fracture.
    Muscles: No asymmetric atrophy or paraspinal muscle edema.
    Neural elements: No abnormal spinal cord signal. Posterior fossa structures intact.
    Head and neck structures: Limited imaging shows no abnormality.

    Occiput-C1: Intact.
    C1-C2: Intact. No stenosis.
    C2-C3: Disc desiccation. No central or neuroforaminal stenosis.
    T3-T4: Disc desiccation. No central or neuroforaminal stenosis.
    C3-C4: Disc desiccation. No central neuroforaminal stenosis.
    C4-C5: Disc desiccation. Tiny central protrusion. No central or neuroforaminal stenosis.
    C5-C6: Disc desiccation. Tiny central protrusion. No central or neuroforaminal stenosis.
    C6/C7: No central or neuroforaminal stenosis.
    C7-T1: No central or neuroforaminal stenosis.

    THORACIC SPINE MRI
    Alignment: No subluxation.
    Bones: No suspicious marrow abnormality. No bone marrow edema or fracture.
    Muscles: No asymmetric atrophy or muscle edema.
    Neural elements: No abnormal signal the spinal cord.
    Limited imaging of the chest and upper abdomen shows tiny subcentimeter hyperintense foci in the liver, probably cyst or hemangioma statistically.

    No evidence of central canal or neuroforaminal stenosis at any level.

    Impression
    IMPRESSION:
    Cervical spine MRI:
    1. No central canal or neuroforaminal stenosis. Very tiny disc herniations at C4-C5 and C5-C6.

    Thoracic spine MRI:
    2. No central canal or neuroforaminal stenosis. No osseous abnormality.

    1. 29
      Dr. Josh Woggon on August 7, 2017

      While we cannot provide medical advice over the Internet, I can tell you that these MRI results are very unremarkable, and a scoliosis of 10 degrees or less is considered very mild – technically, it’s not even a scoliosis at all. In my opinion, there’s probably something else going on that is causing your back pain. I would recommend that you consult with a CLEAR chiropractor if possible; they would be able to conduct a physical examination and take a series of radiographs which could help to pinpoint the source of your pain.
      https://www.clear-institute.org/find-a-doctor/

  16. 30
    Oscar mendez on August 4, 2017

    So does having 5 degree scoliosis means that it can still grow up to 40 degrees someone please answer me this question

    1. 31
      Dr. Josh Woggon on August 7, 2017

      While every big curve once started out small, if the spine is done growing, there is virtually no chance that a 5 degree curve would progress to a 40 degree curve. In a young child with a lot of growing left to do, though, a 5 degree curve could potentially worsen during the growth spurts.

  17. 32
    Edwin on August 5, 2017

    So if you have a 5 degree curve does it mean your okay or does it mean it can still turn into 40 degree

    1. 33
      Dr. Josh Woggon on August 7, 2017

      A 5 degree curve is highly unlikely to progress to 40 degrees. When considering the risk of progression, though, it’s also important to consider the patient’s age. A 20 degree curve in a 10 year-old child (who has a lot of growing left to do) is considered to be at high risk for progression. A 20 degree curve in a 25 year-old, whose spine is done growing, would be considered a low-risk case.

  18. 34
    Kathy on August 22, 2017

    My son is 14, went to pediatrician because he was having tailbone pain. After his exam, he tells me that he wants to do xrays because my son has a curve in his spine that in his opinion is scoliosis.

    We get the xrays completed and the drs office calls and says YES he does have scoliosis and has a 3 degree curve in the thoracic lumbar and we are just to watch and wait, and IF he has pain to call. Otherwise they will recheck his back at his yearly well check.

    What’s your opinion on this?

    1. 35
      Dr. Josh Woggon on August 23, 2017

      Technically, a 3 degree curve is not a scoliosis (it has to measure greater than 10 degrees). Also, Cobb angle has a 5 degree measurement error, meaning that a 3 degree curve could actually be as high as 8 degrees, or as low as 0. A 3 degree curve in a 14 year old boy (who has completed the majority of his growth spurt at this point) is not a reason to be concerned, in my opinion, and most likely not the source of his pain.

  19. 36
    Peggy Mauro on August 29, 2017

    My grandson, who is 13 had just had an x-ray with the results of 8 degrees.
    The doctor said we will just keep an eye on it. So that being said, is there anything we can do to prevent it form increasing. As far as I know he has not pain. He is active in sports and has grown considerably tall over the summer.

    1. 37
      Dr. Josh Woggon on August 29, 2017

      An 8 degree curve in a 13 year-old boy is very unlikely to increase (progress) over time. That being said, even a mild curvature of the spine can cause discomfort and place unnecessary wear & tear on the joints of the spine. The CLEAR methods are extremely effective in the treatment of minor spinal mis-alignments; in the past, patients have seen 75% correction or more in just a few weeks! You can find your closest CLEAR doctor at https://www.clear-institute.org/find-a-doctor/

  20. 38
    Noah on August 30, 2017

    I am 16 years old. My pediatrician diagnosed me with Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis. The x-rays showed a 7° curvature in my spine. Should I be worried?

    1. 39
      Dr. Josh Woggon on August 31, 2017

      Technically, a curve needs to measure greater than 10 degrees to be considered a scoliosis, so your pediatrician’s diagnosis is incorrect. A 7 degree curve in a spine that is mostly done growing is usually not a great cause for concern. However, it is possible for small curves to contribute to back pain or other issues.

  21. 40
    John Summers on September 21, 2017

    I have a 10° Apex of right curvature T12will L3 and a 10° apex left curvature between L3 and L5 I can’t get back to the doctor for four weeks but I just saw the report and someone told me it makes sense that I’ve been in terrible pain for the last year’s in bed and rest time not just with Cortizone shots and protruding herniated disc. Are these numbers something that surgery can fix or merit.

    1. 41
      Dr. Josh Woggon on September 21, 2017

      Generally, surgery is recommended at 40 degrees in teenagers and 45 degrees in adults. You can read more about treatment options for a 10 degree curve on our Mild Scoliosis page: https://www.clear-institute.org/learning-about-scoliosis/types-of-scoliosis/mild-scoliosis/

  22. 42
    Rocky on September 27, 2017

    I was just recently diagnosed with 11 degree scoliosis and I am a 15 year old female I experience pain with my scoliosis I get back pain and one of my shoulders is lower than the other and I experience pain in the one that is lower. I am a heavy athlete , I do rowing and crossfit and Hockey. Is there anything I can do to help myself because I can’t get to the dr till next year and my mother doesnt want me going it a chiropractor.

    1. 43
      Dr. Josh Woggon on September 29, 2017

      Orthopedists generally will not brace a curve of 11 degrees, and bracing, in any case, does little to nothing to improve back pain or posture. If chiropractic is not an option, you could look into scoliosis-specific physiotherapy, such as Schroth, SEAS, or Yoga For Scoliosis.

  23. 44
    Hockeymom on September 29, 2017

    My son was just diagnosed with a 17 degree and a 12 degree scoliosis. Not sure why the 2 numbers when most only show one but my concern is that this is his senior year and ice hockey is his passion. Waiting on ortho appt to find out for sure but will this keep him from playing hockey?

    1. 45
      Dr. Josh Woggon on September 29, 2017

      Most likely, your son has two curves (a primary and a compensatory). Some doctors will only measure the primary curve.

      If your son has back pain, and playing hockey makes it worse, there might be a cause for concern. There’s also a chance that his spine could be more vulnerable to injury from body checks and hard hits. The good news is that a 17 degree curve is relatively mild, and as a senior, his body is past its growth spurt, where the risk of the scoliosis getting worse is at its greatest. While I cannot provide definitive recommendations, my general thoughts are that skeletally-mature patients with mild scoliosis do not generally need to discontinue any sports or activities.

      More information is available on our Sports & Activities page, here: https://www.clear-institute.org/living-with-scoliosis/scoliosis-exercises/sports-and-activities/

  24. 46
    Marijane Estes on September 30, 2017

    As a teen i was rated at 13 degree that’s all about I remember but since I was 17, now being 28 I have alot of mild to severe lower back pain. One MRI showed that I had a protruding disk. But pain will get better and go away. Although when I do have pain I seem to feel paralyzed as it feels my nerves are being pinched. Anyways I was just wondering if even 13 degree would have an impact on my now chronic back pain and what kind of doctor would best fit to figure out more. Thanks

    1. 47
      Dr. Josh Woggon on October 1, 2017

      It’s possible that your curve may have increased since you were a teenager. I’d recommend getting a new x-ray, or having it measured on the MRI, if possible (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11558047). Even a small scoliosis can increase the risk of back pain, as well as the muscle imbalances and wear & tear upon the spinal joints & discs over time. I’d recommend visiting a CLEAR chiropractor or a physiotherapist specializing in scoliosis; orthopedic surgeons are typically trained only in bracing & surgery, which would probably not be ideal treatments in your case. https://www.clear-institute.org/find-a-doctor/

  25. 48
    josady go on October 5, 2017

    lately i was having a severe backpains and difficulty in breathing. when i have it check my x-ray results turn out that i have mild dextro-scoliosis of the thoracic spine of 10 degrees. Does this require medications even if its mild only and my mom doesnt want me to see a chiropractor

    1. 49
      Dr. Josh Woggon on October 5, 2017

      Medications will not treat the cause of your back pain or breathing difficulties. If chiropractic is not an option, I would recommend scoliosis-specific exercises and physiotherapy, such as Schroth or SEAS.

  26. 50
    Jorge on October 7, 2017

    Can a 5 degree curve increase if you are a 15 year old boy?

    1. 51
      Dr. Josh Woggon on October 15, 2017

      It’s possible, but highly unlikely. A 5 degree curve would be considered very low risk.

  27. 52
    Debra Wood on October 26, 2017

    My daughter has recently been diagnosed with scoliosis, the orthopaedic doctor said it was a 28 degree curve, referred her for physiotherapy. She also has osteoporosis in her hips and spine. She is in a lot of pain with her back, shoulders and hip.
    Nobody seems to be concerned about it. Her paediatrician believes her curve has worsened since he last saw her 3 months ago and needs further x-rays but the orthopaedist is not in any rush. Should we be concerned and what can we do to help with her pain. She is 15.

    1. 53
      Dr. Josh Woggon on October 27, 2017

      A 28 degree curve in a 15 year-old female would normally be considered moderate risk, since the time of peak growth velocity (when her spine grows the fastest – around 11.7 years of age) has passed, but a 28 degree curve will likely continue to progress in adulthood (albeit at a slower rate than during adolescence). Some people’s spines do not stop growing until their early 20’s, so in seven years, it is possible that the Cobb angle could measure over 40 degrees (which is where surgery is typically recommended).

      They are most likely not paying much attention to her scoliosis because they do not have any effective non-surgical methods for treating it. A brace is usually worn in the earlier stages, when the spine has more growing left to do; its effectiveness is greatly reduced in the late teens. While scoliosis-specific physiotherapy methods have demonstrated excellent results in Europe, orthopedic hospitals in America have been slow to adopt these new methods. General physiotherapy usually has fair to poor results with scoliosis patients.

      Your daughter is not alone; there are many people living with scoliosis who fall outside of the traditional treatment parameters, yet are suffering from pain or other symptoms due to their scoliosis. The CLEAR Institute evolved to fill this important need. Our methods have helped many people to reduce their Cobb angle & the risk of future progression, to alleviate their pain & symptoms from the scoliosis, and to decrease the chance that the scoliosis will cause further problems later in life. I would recommend scheduling a consultation with a CLEAR Certified Doctor (either in person or over the phone). You can find a list of the CLEAR Doctors here: https://www.clear-institute.org/find-a-doctor/

      Please do not hesitate to reach out to us via phone (866-663-7030) or e-mail (care@clear-institute.org) if we can be of further assistance!

  28. 54
    Farah on October 28, 2017

    I have a case study and will appreciate your help….A 20 years old with minor scoliosis (10 degrees) want to train at the gym to lose weight and gain muscle mass. I want to know what muscles to strengthen(back muscles: erector spinae, quadratos lomborum, lats, obliques, and traps? And what muscles to stretch? ( Is it abs ? hip flexors?) Also what are the specific modifications to follow in his training ? ( Intensity should be low and increased gradually to moderate) ? He also plays basketball and tennis does it affect his scoliosis degree ?
    Thanks in advance

    1. 55
      Dr. Josh Woggon on October 29, 2017

      While we cannot provide healthcare advice that is specific for one individual, I can tell you that weightlifting activities tend to worsen a scoliosis, due to the fact that because of the existing muscle imbalances, the body will engage the stronger muscles more than the muscles on the opposite side. The degree of imbalance in the EMG amplitude of the muscles has been linked to scoliosis progression, so weightlifting may increase the risk of the scoliosis getting worse. Asymmetrical, isometric exercises that specifically isolate and target the inhibited muscles must be performed to prevent or reduce this risk. If you would like more information about which specific muscles need to be targeted in this individual, he would need to be seen in person by a CLEAR Certified Doctor.
      Also, activities such as tennis, golf, baseball, etc, that involve a great deal of one-sided repetitive motion are more likely to have an effect upon the scoliosis.

  29. 56
    Mira Kimball on November 6, 2017

    My 10 year old daughter was just diagnosed with a 9 degree curve. Her pediatrician says to wait and see. We will see her again in a year. Do you agree with this plan or should we have another x Ray in 6 months? My fear is that the curve will progress a good amount in the next year as she grows. Thanks in advance.

    1. 57
      Dr. Josh Woggon on November 7, 2017

      Scoliosis tends to progress during periods of rapid growth. The average age when a scoliosis gets worse very quickly is 11.7 years of age. By undergoing CLEAR treatment sooner rather than later, you may be able to reduce or prevent the chance of the curve progressing during this time. Personally, I recommend a more proactive approach; it is always easier to manage a condition such as scoliosis when it is in its mild, early stages, as opposed to waiting until it becomes more severe.

  30. 58
    Karolina on November 15, 2017

    Hi –
    I received the results from my xray and the result is that I have scoliosis measuring about 49 degrees Cobb’s angle at the mid L-spine. A compensatory apex to the right scoliosis of the T-spine measures about 33 degrees. In addition, multilevel degenerative change is seen to the thoracic and lumbar spine severely affecting affecting the lumbar spine. There appear to be 6 lumbar type vertabrae. For the purposes of this disc dictation S1 will be considered lumbarized the lowest mobile segment appears to be S1-S2. Again, there is a subluxation of L4 with reference to L5 to the left and there is multilevel degenerative disc disease with disc space loss particularly seen at L3-L4 and L4-L5. I’m 57 so obviously, cannot do much re surgery, etc. Thoughts greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    1. 59
      Dr. Josh Woggon on November 15, 2017

      It sounds like this might have started as a mild or moderate case of idiopathic scoliosis that was accelerated later in life by degeneration and postural fatigue (and possibly menopause, depending upon your age); it’s rare for such a large compensatory curve to develop in a case of pure degenerative (or de novo) scoliosis. There is a great deal our certified doctors can do to help arrest the degenerative processes, and increase the stability & strength of the spine to improve function, reduce pain, and decrease the severity as measured by Cobb angle (typically, cases with primary lumbar curves are some of the cases that respond best to CLEAR treatment!). I would recommend getting in touch with a CLEAR doctor to share your x-rays and schedule a consultation with them, either over the phone or in person. https://www.clear-institute.org/find-a-doctor/

  31. 60
    Crystal on November 21, 2017

    Hi I’ve been having frequent back pain and a bit of neck pain and it turns out I’m at10% and I was wondering if it could possibly be solved with surgery but they say because I’m only 14 they can’t is this true?

    1. 61
      Dr. Josh Woggon on November 22, 2017

      Hello,
      A ten degree Cobb angle in a 14 year-old patient would not be an indication for surgery. Many cases of pain due to scoliosis can be resolved through chiropractic care or physical therapy; scoliosis-specific approaches tend to be much more effective than generalized treatment from a practitioner with no advanced training in scoliosis.

  32. 62
    Irene on November 23, 2017

    I am a 25 year old female and just recently diagnosed with 12 degree thoracic scoliosis convex to the right.
    Should I worry about this?
    Will it increase?

    1. 63
      Dr. Josh Woggon on November 24, 2017

      A curve in the thoracic spine going to the right with a 12 degree Cobb angle is generally not a cause for concern. It is unlikely to progress significantly even after 20 years, and while it may slightly contribute to the risk of developing neck & back pain or stiffness, it’s unlikely to cause any severe problems.
      That said, any amount of sideways curvature in the spine is abnormal, and there’s really no reason to live with it, when there are so many effective scoliosis exercise programs, like CLEAR, SEAS, Schroth, and others. I highly recommend that you decide for yourself whether your mild scoliosis is worth treatment; as I mentioned, even small curves can contribute to pain & muscle imbalances, as well as reduce the body’s ability to exercise, resulting in a loss of productivity & work days.

  33. 64
    Luanna on November 30, 2017

    My 17 yr old son was Dx with mild levoscoliosis of the lumber spine, of about 10 degrees this past Aug 2017. He suffered a nondisplaced transverse Fx through the mid-level malleolus, LT, back in Jan 2017. Could his Fx be what lead to his spine issue? He was having back pain on the RT, which prompted the appointment that lead to the Dx of scoliosis and he never had any problems before and the curve was never caught during a wellness check up. I was surprised with this Dx.

    1. 65
      Dr. Josh Woggon on December 4, 2017

      It is possible. While traumatic scoliosis is a recognized clinical condition, very little research has been done to determine what sets it apart from idiopathic or degenerative scoliosis, and what types of injuries are most likely to cause scoliosis. It is highly unlikely for a 10 degree curve in a 17 year old male to progress, so if the scoliosis gets worse (usually at the same time as the pain), the two are probably related. A 10 degree scoliosis usually will not be detected on a wellness check – only on an x-ray or through years of experience working with scoliosis will curves this small be spotted.

  34. 66
    Kristi on November 30, 2017

    I have been having severe back, hip, and leg pain. I have levoscolios that has a 59 degree Cobb angle. I am 34 yrs old. The dr. Told me it will only get worse that surgery would prevent it from getting worse. Is it normal to be in so much pain? Thank you in advance for your time have a great day.

    1. 67
      Dr. Josh Woggon on December 4, 2017

      “Normal” is like “average” – they basically represent the “typical” experience of someone with scoliosis. However, technically there isn’t one typical, average, or normal case of scoliosis – they all have their own unique aspects. Having scoliosis increases the risk of suffering from back pain, but whether or not your scoliosis is causing pain, both conditions are technically normal. I will say this, however; pain is the body’s “check engine” light. It’s an indication that something is wrong. Using painkillers to “fix” the problem by getting rid of the pain is like unscrewing your check engine light bulb to “fix” the problems with your engine.

  35. 68
    Mathew on December 3, 2017

    Im 17 and I have a 6 degree curve, can i join the gym safe right now?

    1. 69
      Dr. Josh Woggon on December 4, 2017

      If the Cobb angle measures less than 10 degrees, technically it isn’t even considered a scoliosis. The vast majority of patients who have a Cobb angle of 6 degrees will not have any problems with most gym workouts. However, if you are experiencing any pain during or after your workouts, I would recommend consulting with a doctor. Just because mild scoliosis isn’t usually painful, doesn’t mean it always isn’t!

  36. 70
    Deb on December 7, 2017

    Hello, my first time posting. Our son has been in basic training for almost 4 months, but during the second month injured his ankle. Pulled tendons, sprain. Along the way they some how decided he had scoliosis. A 7 degree curve. He has had physicals for sports for many years. The doctors always had him lean over, ran fingers up and down his spine. He had a scan for a football injury last year. They wanted to check his spine, and no mention of any curve. He plays sports, works outs, worked cattle for years, rides horses. Nothing has ever bothered him except for allergies, and normal childhood colds. He has always been active and healthy, and has never complained of hurting. Now he is being sent home, and is very depressed. Is this amount of curvature bad, or prohibiting? It hasn’t seemed to have any affect on him so far? Thank you. My mother’s heart is hurting for him.

    1. 71
      Dr. Josh Woggon on December 8, 2017

      Technically, the Cobb angle must be above 10 degrees in order for it to be considered as a case of scoliosis. A 7 degree curve is almost impossible to detect on physical exam or visual inspection, so you shouldn’t be too surprised that it wasn’t detected earlier. I do want to be sure, however, that you are referring to the Cobb angle on x-ray, as sometimes a doctor screening for scoliosis will use a tool called a Scoliometer, which is similar to an inclinometer. It has a small bead inside that is used to measure rotation of the ribs while the patient is bending forward during Adam’s Forward Bending Test. On a scoliometer, 7 degrees of rotation usually equates out to a 20 degree Cobb angle on an x-ray.
      If it is truly a 7 degree Cobb angle, there is only a very small chance that it could be responsible for his symptoms, both physical & emotional. A very small curve will typically not cause any significant cosmetic changes, so I doubt that would be the reason for his depression. I would suggest looking deeper into other potential causes; from what you’ve described, it’s unlikely that his scoliosis could be the culprit.
      I wish you and your son all the best of health and happiness!

  37. 72
    Laura on December 11, 2017

    I have a 13 year old daughter who just got diagnosed with scoliosis today. She has a 29 degree curvature. I first noticed something was wrong when I seen her right hip was higher than her left when walking. When she bends over to touch her toes, there is a very large hump on the right side of her back over her rib cage. She doesn’t really complain of pain, just that her back and neck feel very tight. My question is should she continue doing MMA Brazillian Jujitsu? It is full contact and I do not want to jeopardize her health. We don’t see a spine Dr. for a couple more weeks to ask him, so should I not let her do MMA?

    1. 73
      Dr. Josh Woggon on December 13, 2017

      While I cannot make specific recommendations for a patient I have not had the chance to work with, I can say that I would not recommend that a patient under my care in a similar situation perform full contact activities such as MMA. For more information, please visit our page on Sports & Activities: https://www.clear-institute.org/living-with-scoliosis/scoliosis-exercises/sports-and-activities/

  38. 74
    Rinku Karmacharya on January 5, 2018

    My son is 14 years old. He just got diagnosed with thoracic Cobb angle 12. We went to see orthopedic doctor and he said his maturity level is at 4 and maximum is 5. He is not in any kind of pain and has never complained anything . Orthopedic doctor aid we do not need to worry about anything. Should we take him anywhere for physical therapy or chiropractor? I am just a very worried mom. Thank you very much in advance.

    1. 75
      Dr. Josh Woggon on January 6, 2018

      Hello, and thank you for taking the time to reach out to us to share your concerns. I don’t think you are being overly worried; it’s never a bad idea to get a second opinion. You see, many orthopedic surgeons are operating on old information that they were taught in school; they aren’t familiar with new research that demonstrates that even mild scoliosis (in the range of 10 to 20 degree Cobb angles) can reduce the body’s ability to function at its full potential (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28562557, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28661261, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3348721, and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16025029) and there’s also evidence that children with mild scoliosis miss more days from school and suffer limitations in their participation in other activities. They have also found that having scoliosis (regardless of whether it is mild, moderate, or severe) can also increase the risk of depressive tendencies and problems with self-image. In my experience, providing teenagers with exercises that can help their scoliosis can be very empowering to their self-esteem, and reduce any feelings of helplessness they may have about their scoliosis.
      It is true that the risk of progression is very low in teenage males with mild curves, so that should be considered good news. However, it is the official position of the CLEAR Scoliosis Institute that every person with scoliosis should have the right to choose for themselves whether or not they want to receive treatment. Cases of mild scoliosis respond extremely well to CLEAR treatment, with many individuals experiencing reductions in their Cobb angles to below 10 degrees (which is technically not considered a scoliosis any more). Early treatment may also reduce the chance of experiencing problems later in life.
      If there is any assistance we may provide, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at care@clear-institute.org, or (866) 663-7030. I wish you and your son all the best of health and happiness!

  39. 76
    Jesus on January 13, 2018

    Hi, i’m 15 and I had X-rays yesterday because I have back pain in my bottom right side but the boc said it was a 10 degree scoliosis should I be worried?

    1. 77
      Dr. Josh Woggon on January 14, 2018

      Which direction did the scoliosis in your low back point towards? If it was to the right, it’s more likely that the pain in your low back is due to muscle tension. If it was to the left, it’s not likely that the scoliosis is the source of your pain, and you should be diligent in your quest to discover the cause of your pain. Pain is the body’s “Check Engine” light, and it’s not something you should ignore.

      A 10 degree scoliosis in a 15 year-old (male or female) isn’t a great cause for concern, but it is a sign that something is wrong. It usually doesn’t cause huge problems right away (although there are exceptions; Kurt Cobain of Nirvana had a mild scoliosis, and it caused him so much pain that it may have contributed to his heroin addiction and subsequent overdose), but it can lead to problems down the road. While a medical doctor won’t prescribe you a brace or recommend surgery, a CLEAR chiropractor might be able to help you with any scoliosis-related pain, and reduce the chance of it causing any problems down the road. It’s up to you if you’d like to receive treatment or not; feel free to reach out to us if we can provide any additional information which might be helpful, or assist in connecting you to a CLEAR doctor.

      Thanks for taking the time to post!

  40. 78
    Maraiza Arugay on January 15, 2018

    Hi im 17 years old with 27 degrees of scoliosis. Is it possible that i might went theraphy rather than braces. Thank you.

    1. 79
      Dr. Josh Woggon on January 15, 2018

      Hello,m
      The mission of the CLEAR Scoliosis Institute is to provide an alternative treatment option other than bracing or surgery. Our methods have helped many people your age, with similar Cobb angles, to reduce & stabilize their scoliosis. I highly recommend that you reach out to a CLEAR Doctor near you to schedule a consultation to find out whether the CLEAR methods would be able to help you with your scoliosis. You can find a list of CLEAR Certified Doctors here: https://www.clear-institute.org/find-a-doctor/
      Thank you for your time, and have a wonderful day!

  41. 80
    Elizabeth Kinder on January 19, 2018

    Hello. My son is 12 years old and they conducted a health screening at his school. We got a letter home saying he had “Scoliosis 10 degrees”. Should I take him to his pediatrician to follow up? Should we be concerned?

    1. 81
      Dr. Josh Woggon on January 22, 2018

      Hello, and thank you for taking the time to post! I hope I can be of assistance.
      In my opinion, yes, you should definitely follow up with your family doctor or a scoliosis specialist after receiving a positive result from a scoliosis screening test.
      If the scoliosis screening was conducted using a Scoliometer, a 7 degree measurement on the Scoliometer correlates roughly with a 20 degree Cobb angle on x-ray. With a measurement of 10 degrees, it is possible that the Cobb angle could be around 30 degrees. I would highly recommend following up with an appointment to have an x-ray taken, preferably at a center that specializes in scoliosis. Keep in mind that if you visit a medical doctor for scoliosis care, they will recommend bracing for Cobb angles between 20 and 40 degrees, and spinal fusion surgery for Cobb angles above 40 degrees. They will most likely not recommend exercises or chiropractic, because this is not what they were taught to do. For the most cutting-edge chiropractic scoliosis care, visit one of our doctors: https://www.clear-institute.org/find-a-doctor/. You can also learn more about the various exercise-based treatment options for scoliosis here: https://www.clear-institute.org/treating-scoliosis/alternative-treatments/physical-therapy/
      If there is additional information or assistance we may provide, please feel free to contact us at care@clear-institute.org.

  42. 82
    Jason Gillmore on February 19, 2018

    Our almost 10 yr old daughter (off the charts tall at 5’3″ 99.9%ile, 109# 96%ile, 84%ile BMI, fit healthy very active in ballet, some running & basketball, with excellent posture, still 1-2 yrs from puberty and just entering her prepubescent growth spurt according to pediatrician) was diagnosed today at her 10yo wellness visit with 5 degree curvature more in upper back with manual exam no xray. Not scoliosis yet. But pediatrician surprised by it, scheduled 6 mo followup. Should we consult a chiropractor or orthopedic before then or ok to wait 6 mos and just see pediatrician again? Seemed like if it hit 8 degrees she’d label it scoliosis and get xrays and monitor more closely, and at 20 would recommend intervention. What if anything can/should we do before then, in the 5-10 degree range?

    1. 83
      Dr. Josh Woggon on February 21, 2018

      Thank you for taking the time to post your question; I commend you for being proactive and taking the initiative to research your daughter’s options for scoliosis treatment & preventing future potential problems!
      Some of the reasons why medical doctors typically wait to prescribe a brace until the curve has progressed to 20 degrees is due to the difficulty in predicting which cases of scoliosis will get worse, combined with the (mistaken) belief that mild cases of scoliosis do not affect someone’s health, and the hassle & uncomfortable aspect of bracing. Wearing a brace can be difficult & awkward, and can come with emotional, social, financial, and physical burdens; doctors don’t want to put someone through that experience unless they feel it is genuinely necessary.
      Recognizing the challenges of traditional scoliosis treatment, CLEAR has set out to create a new model. For nearly 20 years, our doctors have evaluated thousands of cases of scoliosis, approaching the condition from a different perspective. Chiropractic has always been focused upon addressing the cause of the problem (rather than masking the symptoms with painkillers or muscle relaxants), and our approach to scoliosis is no different. We have identified new insights into possible causes of scoliosis, and developed clinical procedures to evaluate & treat the individual unique influences upon a person’s spine which might affect their chances of their scoliosis getting worse or causing problems for them down the road. By visiting a CLEAR doctor, they will be able to perform a much more thorough examination that will help you to make informed decisions regarding your daughter’s care.
      We believe that by intervening early in a person’s life, we can improve the quality of their life for years to come. Early, effective treatment also results in significantly reduced investments of time & money; it is much easier to reduce & stabilize a 10 degree Cobb angle than one that has progressed to 20 or 40 degrees, and when the scoliosis has not been present for many years.
      You also note that the pediatrician diagnosed your daughter with a 5 degree curvature, but no x-ray was taken. Technically, scoliosis can only be diagnosed & measured by taking an x-ray (or other medical imaging, such as a CT or MRI). One of the devices that doctors & nurses use to screen for scoliosis is called a scoliometer; it measures rotation of the trunk & ribs, and its results are also expressed in degrees, like Cobb angle. I have seen this result in confusion in the past; a 7 degree measurement on a scoliometer equates to roughly a 20 degree Cobb angle measurement on x-ray (but this varies from person to person). If someone is told their scoliosis is 5 degrees, they might get the impression that it’s not very severe, but an x-ray could reveal a 15, 20, or even 25 degree Cobb angle, which is actually quite concerning (curves above 25 degrees are 90% likely to get worse over time). I would recommend having an x-ray taken and measured by a scoliosis specialist, so you can be sure of an accurate diagnosis.
      It’s also important to keep in mind that scoliosis has the highest chance of getting worse during growth spurts; the average age when a young woman’s scoliosis gets worse the fastest is 11.7 years of age. Seeking treatment before the growth spurt can help to correct spinal imbalances, so that when the growth spurt does occur, there’s less chance of this happening, and if it does get worse, an effective treatment plan is already in place.
      I hope this information is helpful; feel free to reach out to us at (866) 663-7030 or (612) 254-2702 if there is any additional information or assistance we may provide!

  43. 84
    Mark Jowen on March 3, 2018

    Hi sir/maam I am a 16 yrs old teenage boy i was diagnosed with a 5-6degrees of dextroscoliosis and Currently imexperiencing back pain also im a dancer thats why i am really scared that it might limit my movements also i would like to add that every time i breath not totally everytime but most of time I breath a part of my backbone will make a sound hoping for yout help thank you so much

    1. 85
      Dr. Josh Woggon on March 6, 2018

      Hello,
      If the 5 – 6 degrees you are referring to is a Cobb angle measurement on an x-ray (as opposed to a scoliometer measurement in Adam’s forward bending position), you most likely do not have anything to be seriously concerned about. Technically, scoliosis is only diagnosed when the curvature reaches greater than 10 degrees on an x-ray. However, the back pain and the popping noises are worth looking into. I’d suggest visiting a chiropractor in your area; as specialists in the musculoskeletal system, it’s highly likely a doctor of chiropractic would be able to help.

  44. 86
    Bridget on March 7, 2018

    Hello, My daughter was diagnosed with scoliosis at age 9 with an L2-3 measuring 14 degrees, slight levoscoliosis centered at T3-4 measuring 9 degrees and slight dextrosciosis centered at T10 level measuring 7 degrees. Has a slight leftward pelvic tilt. Now at age 10 ..results shown were upright AP views of the lumbar and dorsal spine with 11 degree lower dorsal scoliosis convexity to the right centered at T9-10, with 16 degree upper lumbar scoliosis convexity to the left centered at L2. She has had back pain which was why she had an x-ray at age 9. How much progress would be expected with this? Thanks

    1. 87
      Dr. Josh Woggon on March 12, 2018

      Thank you for taking the time to post! I hope I can be of assistance.
      First, it’s important to know that the average age of peak curve acceleration (when scoliosis has the biggest risk of getting worse) is 11.7 years in females. This is why even a small curve in someone 10 or younger should be taken very seriously, as there is a chance it could turn from a 10 or 15 degree curve at age 10, to a 25 or 30 degree curve by age 12. I highly recommend consulting with a scoliosis specialist sooner rather than later for this reason. You’re very fortunate to have detected the scoliosis early, before the growth spurt; early detection & treatment offer the best chance of long-term success & avoiding scoliosis surgery.
      Second, the first goal of any form of conservative (non-surgical) scoliosis treatment – whether it’s physical therapy, bracing, or CLEAR chiropractic care – is to prevent the scoliosis from getting worse during adolescence, when the spine is still growing. If the spine completes growing and the curve is below 25 degrees, the risk of it causing problems or getting worse as an adult is much lower than if the curve is at 35 degrees or higher. Every case of scoliosis is unique, and has a different risk of getting worse; furthermore, it is often very difficult to predict exactly which cases of scoliosis will get worse, and which will not. If a doctor works with a 10 year-old patient who has a 15 degree curve for six years, and that curve is re-measured at 20 degrees when the patient is 16, the parent might be upset or discouraged; however, the doctor would be very happy with this result because, if the patient had not received any treatment, their curve would probably have progressed (worsened) to the point of needing surgery (which is typically recommended for curves at 40 degrees or more). It’s important to have realistic goals & expectations for treatment, and recognize that those goals might be different depending upon the individual patient.
      Please feel free to reach out to us at (866) 663-7030 if you have any questions, or if there is additional information or assistance we can provide!

  45. 88
    Rachel on March 12, 2018

    Concerned Mama here.
    My daughter is 8. She was just diagnosed with scoliosis. She had the scoliosis series Xray.
    She was diagnosed with levoscoliosis of the thoracolumbar spine apex at T12. COBB angle technique with the superior vertebra at T8 to inferior vertebra at L3, with a 13.8 degree of curvature.
    Just really concerned as I read that girls are more common to become worse with age and she was diagnosed at an early age.
    Scoliosis does run in the family. I believe BOTH my mom and brother have scoliosis. While, I have lumbar lordosis.

    1. 89
      Jane on March 13, 2018

      Im just as concerned. My 5 year old daughter was diagnosed at age 4. Scoliosis runs in our family also. My sons scoliosis is under 20 degrees at age 19. He was diagnosed at a young age also.

  46. 90
    Anonymous on May 10, 2018

    My daughter is 12 (will turn 13 in Dec) and is pre-pubertal. She is 5’2″ tall and has been diagnosed with a 13 degree curvature on xray. Will she be needing braces and will it get progressively worse otherwise in the next two years with her continuing growth spurt?

    1. 91
      Dr. Josh Woggon on May 10, 2018

      One of the most challenging things about scoliosis is predicting which individuals will progress (worsen), and which will not. Generally, the more growing that someone has left to do, the greater their risk of their scoliosis progressing. You can learn more about some of the risk factors on our page for mild scoliosis. The best way to assess individual risk is to schedule an in-person with a CLEAR Certified Doctor, so they can take some x-rays & perform an examination. If that is not possible, you can reach out to a doctor, send them your daughter’s health records & x-rays, and schedule a phone consultation to review this information with them.

      On a side note, I would recommend tracking growth & measuring height in centimeters, rather than inches, as the smaller increments allow for more precise measurements & more accurate assessment of growth over time.

  47. 92
    Nadeen on June 1, 2018

    My x.ray showed that I have a 5 degree arch
    Can it improve ?
    My doctor told it wouldn’t but I just don’t want to believe him I’m 16 years old by the way

    1. 93
      Dr. Josh Woggon on June 4, 2018

      Yes, scoliosis-specific exercise programs have been shown to reduce scoliosis (here’s one example: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28976171).

  48. 94
    Nadeen on June 1, 2018

    I have a 5 degree arch I’m 16 I think it’s in my upper back can it decrease

    1. 95
      Dr. Josh Woggon on June 4, 2018

      Yes, it is possible to reduce and stabilize scoliosis through a comprehensive, scoliosis-specific rehabilitation program.

  49. 96
    Nadeen on June 1, 2018

    I have a 5 degree arch I’m 16 years old
    Can it decrease by exercises

    1. 97
      Dr. Josh Woggon on June 4, 2018

      It’s important to understand the difference between a 5 degree Cobb angle (which is measured on an x-ray) and 5 degrees of trunk rotation (which is measured using a scoliometer). A 5 degree Cobb angle is a very small curve, technically not even a scoliosis. Five degrees of trunk rotation roughly equates to a 12 degree scoliosis, which is technically a scoliosis, albeit a mild case.
      Scoliosis-specific physiotherapy & chiropractic approaches have demonstrated excellent success in treating mild curves. I would definitely recommend looking into whether these treatments are available in your area. If there is not a scoliosis specialist near you, please click here for more options about what to do next.

  50. 98
    Amber Buckheister on June 5, 2018

    My 12 year old daughter was just diagnosed with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis and with a 47 degree curvature. We were referred to a renowned children’s hospital who told us our ONLY option is spinal fusion and rods. They wouldn’t even talk to us about “trying” a brace and therapy! I am having an extremely hard time accepting that our only option to help our child is a risky and major operation! Are there really NO OTHER options that don’t involve surgery!?

    1. 99
      Dr. Josh Woggon on June 6, 2018

      In the United States, surgery is regarded as the only treatment for curves above 45 degrees. In some regions of Europe, they are more interested in exploring non-surgical options (such as specialized braces & exercises) for people with severe curves, and have begun publishing positive results. In a recent review of the scientific literature, the authors could not find any evidence that surgery was a better option than non-surgical treatment (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27994796). There is no evidence that people who have the surgery as an adolescent have a better long-term quality of life than people who chose not to.
      CLEAR was founded because we wanted to provide more options to people suffering from scoliosis other than bracing & surgery. The majority of patients seen by our doctors tend to be adolescent females with severe curves, seeking to avoid surgery. Through hard work & dedication, many of them are able to achieve this goal.
      There ARE other options besides surgery – you just won’t hear about them from the surgeons. 😉

  51. 100
    Valerie on June 8, 2018

    I’m 24. I’ve had back pain for about 5 years now and just this year I got told I had a 12 degree curve.They told me I caused the curvw due to my posture and the way I walk so slowly throughout the years my spine was slowly curving. I was also informed that since I was 24 that my spine couldn’t straighten out because I was full grown. They said all they could so was prevent it from getting worse especially since I was the one who caused it. I had a lot of muscle spasms due to all the activities I was still doing and a lot of inflammation right above my buttock. A 12 degree curve I know isn’t so bad but I have so much pain. I was doing physical therapy but I feel like it only helps when I’m going but when I stop it continues hurting again. If a 12 degree curve is considered like why does it hurt so bad. I have leg pain, shoulder pain, and back pain down to my buttock. I can’t sit or stand for long. I’m in so much pain.

  52. 101
    Lynn on June 20, 2018

    I just found out my 9 year old grandson has scoliosis, his back degree is 11, i am worried about his mental situation,. he is just started basketball this year and i know it is going to crush his spirits. I would like to know any information on treatments, support groups, anything to help me understand this disease.

    1. 102
      Dr. Josh Woggon on June 20, 2018

      Thank you for reaching out to us. On our website and blog articles, you will find many resources to help you understand more about scoliosis. In particular, I would recommend our blog article on Handling a Diagnosis of Scoliosis, as well as our summary of Scoliosis Information & Resources found all across the web. You may also appreciate books such as Scoliosis and the Human Spine by Martha Hawes PhD (available through the National Scoliosis Foundation, http://www.scoliosis.org), and My Child Has Scoliosis: What Do I Do Now? by Dr. Andrew Strauss, which is available through Amazon as well as through CLEAR’s online store. There are many more treatment options for scoliosis today than there were 50 years ago, and new research is being published every day showing the benefits of scoliosis exercise programs – bracing and surgery are NOT your only choices.

      If there is any additional information or assistance which would be helpful to you, please feel free to reach out to us at (866) 663-7030, or via care@clear-institute.org.

  53. 103
    Gilbert on July 18, 2018

    I was just told that I had a 5 degree curve in my back and also told it was mild scoliocis and was wondering if was going to get worse

    1. 104
      Dr. Josh Woggon on July 23, 2018

      Technically, the Cobb angle must reach 10 degrees for the condition to be considered scoliosis. The chance of a curve under 15 degrees getting worse throughout life is slim, although some events (such as trauma, accidents, pregnancy, or menopause) can de-stabilize the spine and cause it to do so.

      Keep in mind that even mild cases of scoliosis can be responsible for significant limitations in quality of life, and lead to degeneration and increased wear & tear on the joints & muscles over time. A short treatment plan at a CLEAR clinic can give you the tools & knowledge to minimize the impact of scoliosis upon your life, reduce the likelihood of future problems, and provide you with a customized, comprehensive home exercise program to help you maintain & improve the health of your spine!

  54. 105
    Jitka on August 16, 2018

    Hello,
    My almost 7 year old son was diagnosed with 10% scoliosis . We were told to observe it and another app in 6 months . Would chiropractor be any help at this point or is there anything more we can do ? Physiotherapy or another kind of exercise to slow the progression of the scoliosis ? Thank you

    1. 106
      CLEAR on August 23, 2018

      Thank you for reaching out. Based upon his age, I would highly recommend seeking treatment sooner rather than later. As with any condition, the sooner you treat it the easier it is to treat. Yes, he is technically in the “watch and wait” phase based on his degrees by typical medical standards. However, based on his age, being proactive is the best option, as he would be categorized as juvenile scoliosis, which is typically more aggressive than adolescent scoliosis. I would recommend he be seen by a CLEAR Scoliosis doctor. We would be happy to direct you to one closest to you. Treatment with a standard physical therapist or chiropractor who does not specialize in scoliosis would not be very effective for him, as a scoliotic spine functions differently from one without scoliosis. Please let me know if we can help further. Best of luck.

  55. 107
    Sophie on September 1, 2018

    I’m 56 and have had sudden pinched feelings on left side of my mid back in the past two months while picking up something light. The first occurance locked up my back and it took couple of weeks before I felt about 90% back to normal. But the other two incidences were much less painful and recovery was 3-7 days. I had an X-ray done and it showed that I have a mild mutilevel thoracic spondylosis and midthoracic dextroscoliosis centered at T8-T9 measuring 16 degrees. Do you think that I may always have had scoliosis? Perhaps gotten worse with age? Given my age, do you think that it could still worsen? I am physically fit and have been swimming, jogging, lifting weight, yoga, and lots of stretching/bodywork. I am under the impression that I should no longer jog, do you agree? I’m not willing to give up lifting weights though I will do lighter weights, do you think that that would be ok? If I had scoliosis for years, I don’t know why it would cause pinching/pain now. I may have injured it while doing a crazy yogamania class the prior week and then it finally gave out while doing something simple. Could that have happened? Do you think that the subsequent injuries (the minor pinching) is due to the fact that I have not fully recovered? I would appreciate any feedback that you may have. Many thanks!

    1. 108
      CLEAR on September 5, 2018

      Hi, Sophie, thank you for your question. I would like to start by stating that this interaction does not constitute an evaluation and or a diagnosis or recommendation. You should find a qualified practitioner to evaluate you, and one is easily found on our website, here.

      You ask several questions here that are difficult to know without a proper examination and history, but I will do my best. It is probable that you always had scoliosis and only know now because of the X-ray. Typically scoliosis does not cause pain until later in life, especially if it is a mild curve as yours is by definition. Yes, there is research that shows that a scoliosis with age can progress, so that is also a possibility. The fact that you seem to have been physically active has helped to keep the symptoms at bay, but now the fact that you might have pushed it a little too hard has made you aware of the situation. Understand that due to your scoliosis, the musculature is different from side to side where the bend is in the curve and probably contributing to your symptoms. I think at this time the best choice is to find a CLEAR certified doctor to consult with, as we are trained specifically in scoliosis. A proper history and examination will be done with the doctors recommendations at that time. This will help to address your questions more specifically but also give you solutions as to how to manage your scoliosis with proper treatment so that you can live a long life without limitations and without these symptoms getting worse.

  56. 109
    Chrismae on October 11, 2018

    Hi I just found out this month of same year as for pre-employment requirement to have a physical exam and that includes an xray, that I have a 51degree t4 to t11 thoracic dextroscolio is there any possibilty to undergone exercise or braces instead of surgery? Because mine is I guess severe already at the age of 27 now, it might get worst in the coming years.

    1. 110
      CLEAR on October 16, 2018

      Thank you for reaching out. Yes, we do treat patients similar to you without the use of bracing or surgery. I would strongly encourage you to contact the CLEAR doctor closest to you. They would be happy to look at your X-ray and determine if you would be a candidate for care. Please let me know if you need assistance with that.

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