Bone, Joint and Muscle Conditions

Scoliosis Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of Scoliosis

Usually, you can begin to see scoliosis when a child is between 8 and 10 years old. As your child grows and the condition progresses:

  • The bones of the spine may rotate slightly, making it look like your child's waist or shoulders are uneven.
  • One or both shoulder blades may stick out.
  • The hips may seem elevated, or your child may lean to one side.

Scoliosis Diagnosis


Cobb method used to measure scoliosis spine curvature. The endplate of the most deviated vertebrae are marked and a right angle line drawn. The angle created by the intersecting lines indicates the degree of curvature.

To measure scoliosis, we use the Cobb method. The image to the right shows an example of how we take the measurement.

First, we identify the bones in the spine that are tilted the most. Next, we draw a line along the ends of these bones, which allows us to measure the angle of the tilt.

When you and your child visit our clinic, doctors examine your child:

  • We ask your child to bend forward so we can check for a bump along the back that is a sign of scoliosis.
  • We take X-rays of your child's spine to help us find out what type of scoliosis they may have.
  • We find out whether your child might have one of the conditions that sometimes comes along with scoliosis.
  • Sometimes we ask that a child have an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan of the spinal cord. This is to make sure that a cyst or spinal tumor is not causing the scoliosis. This is more common for younger children who have large deformities in the bones in their backs.

Finding out what type of scoliosis your child may have is important because different types of scoliosis progress in different ways and need different treatments.

Contact Us

Contact Orthopedics and Sports Medicine at 206-987-2109 for an appointment, a second opinion or more information.