published Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Ask a doctor: I know scoliosis often appears first in adolescence. What should I look for?

By Dr. Jason Eck

Q: I know scoliosis often appears first in adolescence. What should I look for?

A: Scoliosis is a curvature in the spine. The most common curve is a “c” or “s” shape. It can cause the spine to curve forward or backward; from a side view, you can see this twist of the torso. Scoliosis is inherited, so if there is a family history, your child is more likely to develop the disease. It is found equally among boys and girls, but girls are much more likely to develop larger curves requiring treatment. The magnitude of the curve can vary substantially from generation to generation. Scoliosis is often identified during routine pediatrician visits or school physicals. It is most obvious when looking at the child’s back when he or she is bending forward. You might see or feel a curve in the bumps along the back of the spine. Twisting from scoliosis causes more prominent ribs on one side of the spine leading to a rib hump. Differences in leg length can cause pant legs to fit differently. Feeling along the top of the hips or shoulders can identify one side to be more elevated than the opposite side.

— Dr. Jason Eck, Center for Sports Medicine and Orthopaedics; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

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