Clinical Examination Method for ScoliosisTreating scoliosis is a race against the clock. If you catch it early enough through scoliosis home screening, the right exercises can reduce it and help you stay ahead of the curve.  Unfortunately, many cases aren’t spotted until the spinal curvature has started. At that point scoliosis treatments become more difficult and the risk of progression is 3 x greater depending on the degree of scoliosis!

For kids with scoliosis, spinal screenings and early prevention are critical.  The fact is that idiopathic scoliosis affects more than 7 million people (around 3 percent of the population). Unfortunately, scoliosis screening remains deficient in the United States. Fewer than half of all states require scoliosis screening in schools. Those that do typically use an exam that fails to identify any sign of scoliosis until the curve has already progressed to a significant degree of curvature.

One thing that all large scoliosis curves have in common is they all started as small spinal curves first.

Clayton J. Stitzel DC


Why is early detection of Mild Scoliosis important?

It is no secret that virtually all conditions respond to treatment better in their earliest stages.  Idiopathic scoliosis is no different. Genetic, neurotransmitter, and hormone testing are accurate for identifying the most “at-risk” children. Physical rehabilitation programs like Small Curve Camp for Scoliosis also play a crucial role in staying ahead of the curve

Peer-reviewed and published research have clearly established a link between early-stage scoliosis intervention (ESSI) and better treatment outcomes. So what is preventing the diagnosis of scoliosis early-stage intervention from becoming the primary treatment for scoliosis?

  • Lack of spinal screenings
  • Insufficient parental knowledge
  • Lack of leadership from health care professionals

Data shows that younger kids with smaller curves respond to treatment better than older kids with larger curves.

Effective scoliosis treatment involves retraining the “posture memory” to improve scoliosis. Through reflexive response exercises, kids can build new posture memory for a straighter spine. Children who start their posture memory retraining before the curve reaches 20 degrees can reduce its severity to less than 10 degrees.

Because school screenings are often unable to spot the initial warning signs of scoliosis, early prevention falls to parents. Consider performing a home scoliosis test if you believe your child is at risk of developing the condition. Scoliosis is most likely to afflict:

  • Kids ages eight to 14.
  • Girls are eight times more likely to get scoliosis than boys.
  • Those with a thin or lanky body shape.
  • A child whose parent or sibling has scoliosis.

To conduct a scoliosis home screening, perform the following steps with your child.

STEP 1: Forward Bend

Doctors and school nurses routinely use this simple exam during scoliosis screenings. Have your child stand with arms extended and palms held together, then bend at the waist as if touching their toes. Examine the back both from behind and from the front, looking for any signs of asymmetry.

  • Is one side of the rib cage higher than the other?
  • Is the lower back uneven?
  • Does one hip appear higher than the other?

STEP 2: Standing Straight

Changes in posture are one of the earliest warning signs of scoliosis—often they hint at the condition before the curve itself becomes visible. As the spine grows into its curve, the shoulders, waist, and hips are thrust out of alignment. Have your child stand up straight while you inspect their posture from the front, from behind, and from the side.

  • Is one shoulder higher than the other?
  • Is one arm farther away from the body?
  • Is one shoulder blade higher than the other?
  • Are the hips uneven?
  • Does the back look too rounded?

STEP 3: Clothes Check

Subtle changes in posture can be hard to spot, but sometimes your child’s clothing provides the first visible indication of spinal curvature. During your scoliosis home screening, study your child for signs of ill-fitting or uneven clothing.

  • Is the hemline uneven?
  • Does one pant leg hang lower than the other?
  • Does one shirtsleeve appear longer than the other?

STEP 4: Eyes and Ears

The alignment of your child’s eyes and ears can also signal a spinal abnormality. Examine your child’s eye line and ears to check for scoliosis red flags.

  • Is the eye line tilted?
  • Is the center of the eyes out of alignment with the center of the hips?
  • Is the inner ear forward of the shoulder?

STEP 5: Taking a Walk

Scoliosis can sometimes cause a slight limp or other irregularities while walking. Study your child’s normal gait to determine if any of these signs are present.

  • Does your child have a slight limp?
  • Does the body tilt to one side?
  • Does one leg seem shorter than the other?

Step 6: Family History and obvious signs of scoliosis

It is clear some families have a history of scoliosis, because of genetics.  Also, some spinal deformities are visible in thin children. 

  • Uneven shoulders
  • rib humps
  • spinal asymmetries (Curved spine & sideways curvature of evidence of scoliosis)
  • Symptoms of scoliosis & types of scoliosis (idiopathic, degenerative scoliosis, & neuromuscular scoliosis

A scoliosis home screening is one of the most effective ways to detect the condition early. As a parent, you know your child better than anyone. If you spot any of the above warning signs, have your child’s posture examined by a specialist.