If you are worried that you or a loved one might have scoliosis, there are a few common symptoms to be aware of.

In teenagers and young children, the most obvious signs will usually be changes in posture and the symmetry and appearance of the back, shoulders, shoulder blades, or hips.  Sometimes a dress or jacket might seem to hang unevenly, or you might notice the distance between one arm and the torso is greater than on the opposite side.  The ribs or shoulder blade might stick out more on one side of the back than the other.  It can also manifest as problems with walking and gait; when walking, normally the arms swing back and forth.  If the arms are held rigidly by the side during gait, this can be a sign of scoliosis.  The only way scoliosis can be accurately diagnosed is through an x-ray, so if you see these signs, it’s always best to schedule a consultation with a healthcare professional.

Besides changes in posture, scoliosis can cause impairments in lung function; pain in the neck, back, or legs; headaches; difficulty sleeping; and muscle tension.  It is also not uncommon for females with scoliosis to have irregular menstrual cycles.  In some cases, scoliosis can cause problems with digestion and proper bowel function.  While this may seem odd from a medical point of view, chiropractors understand that the nerves which lead from the brain to your organs run through your spine, and that spinal problems, such as scoliosis, can sometimes cause problems in these organs.  CLEAR chiropractors are trained in how to address and alleviate many scoliosis symptoms which are related to these spinal dysfunctions.

For many years, it was believed that most cases of scoliosis did not cause any health problems; some doctors were taught this in school, and still believe it today.  However, recent research has demonstrated that even mild cases of scoliosis can reduce the body’s ability to exercise and perform at its full potential.

It was also believed that scoliosis did not cause any pain.  While it is true that some people living with even severe scoliosis do not have pain, it is also true that even mild cases of scoliosis can be painful.  Scoliosis can cause pain in the neck, back, hips, legs, and feet.  Typically this pain is caused by overworked muscles or imbalances in the spine; however, there are some types of pain that can indicate something more dangerous.  It is always important to let your doctor know if you have any pain so they can evaluate it properly and determine the exact cause.

One other interesting change that can occur in people with scoliosis happens with the body’s ability to balance with the eyes closed.  Your body’s ability to recognize its own position, without any visual cues, is called “proprioception.”  People with scoliosis can have problems with their proprioception, which can affect their balance and coordination.  Most people can stand on one leg with their eyes closed for 30 seconds; if you have a hard time doing this, your proprioceptive system might be impaired.  Although this does not necessarily mean you have scoliosis, it is one of the factors which CLEAR doctors are trained to evaluate and address.

Chiropractors have extensive experience in diagnosing problems with posture and the spine.  It’s always a good idea to get checked for scoliosis if you notice postural problems or imbalances in the muscles of the back.  While a physical examination can suggest the presence of scoliosis, only an x-ray can tell for sure if an individual truly has scoliosis.  For more information, please visit our page on Scoliosis Screening.