How Scoliosis Forms

October 20, 2017

Do you remember getting checked for scoliosis in school when you were younger? You probably took the Adam’s Forward Bend Test, where you bent forward at the waist 90 degrees with your arms stretched toward the floor, and your knees remained straight. Sound familiar?

What they were looking for in this routine screening were for any abnormalities like one shoulder blade being higher than the other, or the body tilting to one side. This test helps to determine where scoliosis occurs, if it does occur.

Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis develops around the ages of those 10 to 18 years old, beginning right around the time of rapid growth, and comprising approximately 80 percent of all idiopathic scoliosis cases.

It’s important to know the stages of scoliosis, in order to catch it early on.

  • Sideways, lateral or spinal curvature is considered scoliosis. When the curve advances to 20 degrees or more, one might notice that clothes hang unevenly. The body may also tilt to one side.
  • A scoliosis curve could cause muscle spasms and pain, from trunk imbalances or other issues.


  • Reduced range of motion: the spine becomes less flexible to bend, due to the deformity from spinal twisting.
  • Trouble breathing: the rib cage will twist and tighten the lung space if the spine rotates enough. This, in turn, will make breathing difficult as the bones push against the lungs.
  • Cardiovascular problems: along with having trouble breathing, when the rib cage twists, the heart will have problems pumping blood.

Another symptom to be on the lookout for is noticeable changes while walking. Due to the spine twisting and bending, the hips may then be pushed out of alignment, changing a person’s walk. This can also cause the muscles in the legs to tire out sooner.

How to treat it

A brace may be prescribed to prevent the curve from getting any worse. This can also be uncomfortable for adolescents, not just physically, but also for self-esteem. This is only prescribed if the curve has a risk of progressing. Observation by a doctor every 4 to 6 months is an option in some cases, until the adolescent has reached their full skeletal maturity.

This article was adapted from Spine-Health. To view the original, click here.

If you have any questions about scoliosis please contact Campbell Clinic to meet with a physician. For more information about Campbell Clinic, please visit our website.


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