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Scoliosis isn't always easy to identify, but if a patient suspects that they may be experiencing symptoms associated with the condition, they will usually be given a physical examination before being sent for an X-ray to confirm the presence of an abnormal spinal curvature. This curve is measured using a metric that is commonly referred to as the Cobb angle, which is used to identify the degree of scoliosis present in each sufferer's spine.
 
cobb angle x-ray
 
If the Cobb angle is less than 10°, this is usually an indication of a perfectly normal spine (since the human spine always has a certain degree of deviation - nobody's back is totally straight). 10° is usually used as the threshold for diagnosing scoliosis; if the Cobb angle is identified as exceeding 20°, treatment is routinely recommended so as to prevent further curve progression, which can cause an increasing number of health problems if the Cobb angle is left to worsen. In some cases, treatment is also advised for those who have a curve between 10 and 20°, depending on a variety of different factors in each individual case.
 

What is 20 degree scoliosis?

In simple terms, the severity of an individual's scoliosis is assessed on a scale ranging from mild (Cobb angle of 10-25°) to moderate (26-40°) to severe (40°+). This means a curve that measures around 20 degrees would be classed as mild scoliosis, which is obviously the least debilitating form of the condition.
 
However, while the word 'mild' may suggest that this form of scoliosis is fairly harmless, it does carry a significant risk of progression. This risk can increase up to 100% for a diagnosis in very young children once the curve exceeds the 20° mark. In cases of mild scoliosis, it is beneficial to undertake preventative measures in order to reduce the curve at an early stage and give yourself the best chance at limiting progression.
 
 

What are the symptoms?

Patients with 20 degree scoliosis usually suffer from one or more of the following symptoms:
  • Uneven shoulders and hips
  • Forward or tilted head posture
  • Legs appearing to be uneven
  • Mild pain 
  • Clothes hanging unevenly 
This form of scoliosis is most commonly found in adolescent females, although it can affect individuals of both genders, ranging from young people to fully-grown adults.
 

Treating 20 degree scoliosis

Young patients with mild scoliosis will usually be recommended to wear a specially-fitted back brace -  read about bracing here.
 
scoliosis treatment
 
At the Scoliosis SOS clinic in London, we practice an alternative form of scoliosis treatment called ScolioGold therapy. It is suitable for brace-wearers as well as those who opt to pursue a less restrictive form of curve prevention.
 
Our treatment programmes combine a variety of proven, non-surgical techniques, which are used to address multiple aspects of the condition and provide long-term results. Over the years, we have successfully treated patients with curves ranging from mild to severe, leading to Cobb angle reduction along with the improvement of pain, mobility, and visible symptoms.
 

Case Study: Lottie, aged 12

Lottie is a young dancer who was diagnosed with a 19° scoliosis curvature. She came to us for treatment to help prevent her scoliosis curvature getting worse as she grew. She really enjoyed her treatment with us and knows that she will be able to prevent her condition worsening by continuing to practice her exercises at home.

See our full interview with Lottie here: