Scoliosis can occur at any stage of life, and the patient's symptoms at time of diagnosis can vary hugely from one case to the next: one person might be entirely unaware of their spinal curvature until a doctor spots it on an X-ray, while the next person might be suffering from extreme pain and greatly reduced mobility.
Today, we'd like to answer two different (but related) questions: what will a doctor look for when diagnosing whether a patient has scoliosis, and at what age is scoliosis usually diagnosed?
What do doctors look for when diagnosing scoliosis?
The first step to finding out whether or not you have scoliosis is visiting your GP, who will conduct an examination to see if you have an abnormally curved spine. Your GP will look for a number of different symptoms that may indicate the presence of scoliosis, including:
- Uneven shoulder blades
- Uneven hips
- Leaning to one side
- Back pain
- Cardiovascular issues
- Breathing problems
If your GP suspects that you may be suffering from scoliosis, you will be referred to the hospital for an X-ray scan. The images obtained during this scan will then be analysed by the hospital doctor, and this is when you will receive your scoliosis diagnosis if your spine is abnormally curved.
(Remember, every spine is slightly curved - you will only be diagnosed with scoliosis if the angle of your spinal curve exceeds 10 degrees.)
After you have been diagnosed with scoliosis, the next step is to attend a specialist consultation to discuss the best treatment route for your spinal condition.
At what age is scoliosis usually diagnosed?
Scoliosis affects people of all ages, and some people go many years before receiving a diagnosis. That said, idiopathic scoliosis - the most common form of scoliosis - is usually diagnosed when the patient is between 10 and 15 years old. The cause of idiopathic scoliosis is unknown, yet it accounts for around 80% of all cases.
In some cases, scoliosis can also be diagnosed earlier in the patient's life - for example, children who suffer from cerebral palsy may develop scoliosis as a result of this condition.
Scoliosis also affects adults and the elderly. Some cases of idiopathic scoliosis are not diagnosed until adulthood, but there is also degenerative scoliosis, which occurs later in life due to the ageing process.
If you are looking for an effective non-surgical scoliosis treatment option, please contact Scoliosis SOS today to arrange a consultation.
Are you worried that your child may have a curved spine? Perhaps you suffer from scoliosis yourself, and you'd like to know whether or not the condition has been passed to your son or daughter?
Fortunately, there is an informal test for scoliosis that may help to put your mind at ease. The Adams forward bending test - described below - is a quick and easy way to check your little one for signs of scoliosis. It can be performed at home and does not require any special medical equipment.
Please note that this test should not be used in lieu of a diagnosis from a qualified medical professional. If you believe that you or your child are suffering from scoliosis, be sure to see your GP.
The Adams Forward Bending Test
Here's a step-by-step guide to checking your child for scoliosis:
- Have your child take off their top and stand with their back to you.
- While your child is standing up straight, look for visible signs of scoliosis - do their shoulders, ribs, neck, waist and hips look symmetrical? Or do they appear to be skewed towards one side?
- Now ask your child to bend forward at the waist.
- Once your child is in the forward bending position, look at their back. Does one side of their rib cage look higher than the other?
While no body is perfectly symmetrical, any obvious unevenness that you notice may potentially be a sign of scoliosis. Again, we strongly recommend visiting a doctor if you are concerned that a spinal curvature may be present.
Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we provide effective non-surgical treatment for scoliosis sufferers of all ages. Click here to see before and after photos of our youngest patients, or get in touch today to arrange a consultation with us.