How to Spot Scoliosis a Quick Reference
How Do You Spot Scoliosis?
It’s a good idea to know how to spot scoliosis. Early detection can make a very big difference in you or a loved one’s life. There are other options besides just surgery, especially when the scoliosis is not life threatening to the child. There can be many years of growth left for many children when parents are presented with surgery for their child. The stress of multiple surgeries, when faced with having spinal surgery at a young age, can be daunting. Versus having proper structural chiropractic care that has been shown to halt the progression of scoliosis. The signs of scoliosis don’t always present themselves the same way for everyone and not always is it at a young age. However, scoliosis does tend to increase in a large majority of people as they grow older.
First, you want to observe the posture from the back while the person is standing. The majority of scoliosis patients have the same posture: double-curved scoliosis.
Then you want to identify the curve in the middle of the back (thoracic) which will typically curve toward the right. This is typically the more common curve which the body innately does to avoid the heart. (If scoliosis curve to the left in the thoracic area the doctor would want an MRI to rule out any pathological causations.)
The body tends to balance itself and would do so by a compensatory reaction with the left low back (lumbo-dorsal) curving toward the left. Most people with the typical thoracic curve to the right and lumbar curve to the left will present with a high right shoulder and a low left hip.
This is a “normal” or common stance, usually with the left leg back and weight bearing. Many children and young adults who are aware they have scoliosis will spend time in front of a mirror mimicking “normal” posture so that no one is the wiser. They also tend to wear bigger clothing or ‘hoodies’ to disguise the rib rotation.
As a doctor, I always will look at patients in a “relaxed” state instead of them attempting to hold a better postural position.
When trying to determine this with children it’s I find it best to take into account their posture when I am talking with their parents. The child is unaware that any attention is directly on them allowing me the opportunity to observe them in a “natural” position.
I will observe a right head tilt, with the right shoulder higher than the left, with a right dorsal curvature. The arm when relaxed will hang closer to the body. When I palpate the muscles around the spine close to the right trapezius I find them taught or tight.
The left lumbo-dorsal curvature presents with muscle guarding on the left quadratus lumborum, and there is a low left or posterior left hip concurrent with a high right or anterior hip. The right foot is usually in front of the left foot with the majority of the body weight on the left foot. There is usually an indentation of the left abdomen indicating a weak Psoas muscle which I will palpate if there is no indentation.
Remember that your posture is the window to the spine and this may then indicate additional evaluation.
In the next article, we will discuss other methods used to determine scoliosis without the use of a radiographic analysis.