Scoliosis - Diagnosis

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How was your scoliosis detected and diagnosed?

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How is scoliosis diagnosed?

If you think you have scoliosis, you can see your doctor for an examination. The doctor will ask questions, including if there is any family history of scoliosis, or if you have had any pain, weakness, or other medical problems.

The physical examination involves looking at the curve of the spine from the sides, front, and back. The person will be asked to undress from the waist up to better see any abnormal curves. The person will then bend over trying to touch their toes. This position can make the curve more obvious. The doctor will also look at the symmetry of the body to see if the hips and shoulders are at the same height. Any skin changes will also be identified that can suggest scoliosis due to a birth defect. Your doctor may check your range of motion, muscle strength, and reflexes.

The more growth that a person has remaining increases the chances of scoliosis getting worse. As a result, the doctor may measure the person's height and weight for comparison with future visits. Other clues to the amount of growth remaining are signs of puberty such as the presence of breasts or pubic hair and whether menstrual periods have begun in girls.

If the doctor believes you have scoliosis, you could either be asked to return for an additional examination in several months to see if there is any change, or the doctor may obtain X-rays of your back. If X-rays are obtained, the doctor can make measurements from them to determine how large of a curve is present. This can help decide what treatment, if any, is necessary. Measurements from future visits can be compared to see if the curve is getting worse.

It is important that your doctor knows how much further growth you have left. Additional X-rays of the hand and wrist or pelvis can help determine how much more you have to grow. If your doctor finds any changes in the function of your nerves, he or she may order other imaging tests of your spine including an MRI or CT scan to look more closely at the bones and nerves of your spine.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Yellowcast74, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: July 08

I was in the 7th grade when my scoliosis was detected during a routine school screening. My curvature was so bad that if I had not gotten surgery when I did (my spine was curved toward my chest) it would have affected my breathing which would have led to other health issues. I had to wear a body cast the entire summer of 88 in the south. It was removed right before I started high school but with that cast I still continue to live my life, like run track and hangout like teenagers do. I had a great support system, now today I have a 17 year old son who has been detected of having scoliosis. His is curvature is a little different from mine but when detected he was already at 37 degrees. They have put in a brace that he very seldom wears. I am not sure how this will affect him in his adulthood but since he wants to be hardheaded and not wear the brace there really isn't anything I can do. He does not have much time left to grow and once he stops growing however his curvature is how it is going to have to stay I think.

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Comment from: Tandie, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: September 30

I started having pain when I was in the fifth grade and was aged 10, in 1996. I used to feel tired and breathing was slightly a challenge especially in the winter. At this time, I didn't notice the abnormality. My mom noticed it beginning 2004. I had x-rays taken and that`s when I got to know the problem was scoliosis. It worsens as one grows. I am now 28 years old and everyone can see the abnormality now. I can't wear heels for more than 2 days because I spend some days after experiencing back pain.

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