The Symptoms of Scoliosis of the Back

Dr. Maziar Badii, MD, FRCP, Rheumatologist, discusses The Symptoms of Scoliosis

Loading the player...

Dr. Maziar Badii, MD, FRCP, Rheumatologist, discusses The Symptoms of Scoliosis
Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Maziar Badii, MD, FRCP
The Symptoms of Scoliosis
Duration: 3 minutes, 3 seconds

Patients first suspect they may have a scoliosis when they look in the mirror, they see that their shoulders aren't even.

So one side is higher or their hips are not level to the ground, one side is higher than the other one. Or perhaps more commonly, especially with adolescent onset or juvenile onset, idiopathic scoliosis, a parent noticed that they come out of the shower, they walk, looking from behind, they see that the back is not straight but it looks like a C or like an S.

When someone suspects that they may have a scoliosis, it helps to have somebody else look at the back. It's very hard to see scoliosis in a mirror. It's hard to turn around and look in the mirror to see if there's a curvature.

So you ask a parent or a friend to stand behind you with the back exposed, so wearing a bra or no t-shirt on, see if there's a straight line going down. With the person standing if there's a curve that may imply that there is a scoliosis, then lean forward.

And with a scoliosis again the other person may notice that the musculature are not even, so one side looks a little further up or more developed than the other, or this is a telltale sign of a scoliosis, that in fact, the ribcage is higher on one side than the other.

So with a scoliosis because there's a turn, there's a curve when we bend forward, the side, one side will push the ribcage out and the other side will come down. So instead of bending forward like that one side will come up.

These are simple signs that you may have a scoliosis. You may want to see your doctor about that and your doctor may want to do an X-ray to see if, in fact, there is an abnormal curvature or not. Knowing the classification is important because it has implications for diagnosis, for management, and importantly for prognosis.

Although scoliosis is a lifelong problem the congenital form, for the most part, and the idiopathic forms, for the most part, are stable, they're self-limited, so even without treatment if you follow them for 50 years, and these studies have been done, patients have been followed for 50 years, they don't tend to cause any additional problems.

They don't cause cardiopulmonary problems, they don't cause destruction of nerve function, they don't even cause all that much worsening of the curvature itself from what it is now over time. Whereas, the acquired forms that are not idiopathic but are secondary either to traumatic injury or to a neurological injury, to abnormal mass in the spine, these can progress.

So knowing the classification and seeing your physician and your physician identifying which category you fall into can have implications now, they can have implications in the future. If you think you have a scoliosis either because you've seen asymmetry of your posture yourself or someone has commented that you may have an abnormal curve in your spine, see your family physician, they can examine you and answer your questions.

You might visit a rheumatologist for information on what is, conditions, side effects, symptoms and treatments related to scoliosis in children and adults, other spinal disorders and genetic conditions.

Presenter: Dr. Maziar Badii, Rheumatologist, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Rheumatologist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.