Scoliosis Screening

There are several warning signs a health care professional can use to help determine if a child has scoliosis. A doctor’s referral is required to become a patient at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. You should refer a child to his or her doctor if you notice any of the following:


  • The shoulders are different heights, or one shoulder blade is more prominent.
  • The head is not centered directly over the pelvis.
  • One hip appears higher or is more prominent.
  • The rib cage is uneven.
  • The waist is uneven (one side looks more curved than the other.)
  • The entire body is leaning to one side.

Forward Bend
The Adam’s Forward Bend Test is a standard exam often used by doctors or school nurses that can be performed by a parent as well. The examiner asks kids to bend at the waist as if they were touching their toes, then gets his or her eyes level with the child’s back to look for one side being higher than the other or any asymmetry of the back. This is a simple screening test that can detect potential problems. If you notice any unevenness, you should contact your doctor for an exam. Using a scoliometer can help determine the severity of the curve.

Scoliosis is usually confirmed by taking an X-ray of the entire spine looking from front to back. A lateral curvature can be seen on the X-ray, and if a curve measures greater than 10 degrees, it’s considered scoliosis. Other imaging, such as an MRI, may be necessary. Once a diagnosis is made, your doctor will begin discussing scoliosis treatment options.