What are Common Symptoms of Scoliosis?

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  • Written By: Alex Paul
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 10 August 2019
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The most common symptoms of scoliosis include a change in posture and an obvious curvature of the spine. Some patients may appear with one shoulder higher than the other or the head may tilt to one side. In most cases, the change in appearance will not be accompanied by any other symptoms. Depending on the type of scoliosis involved, however, the condition may cause back pain. Other potential symptoms of scoliosis include shortness of breath and chest pain.

Typically, the symptoms of scoliosis will not involve pain, but will cause a change in the patient’s appearance. The curvature of the spine will usually not appear natural due to a sideways curve. This can range from almost unnoticeable to severe, but the curve must be greater than 10 degrees in order to be classified as scoliosis. The change will often be noticed by a friend or family member first, although it is sometimes picked up during regular medical screening of children.


There are a number of other changes in appearance which can potentially signify scoliosis. In some cases, it may be obvious that the patient’s posture has changed. Other patients may start to become unable to fit into certain clothes, or one shoulder may appear higher than the other. Also, the shoulder blade may stick out more on one side when a child has scoliosis. One of the most distressing things about the symptoms of scoliosis is that they can occur quickly, especially if a child is going through a growth spurt.

Although there are usually no other symptoms of scoliosis, the patient may suffer from back pain. This is dependent on how severe the curvature of the spine is, what type of scoliosis is present, and what is causing it. Some patients may find that exercises to strengthen certain muscles may reduce back pain, but for some the discomfort will become a long term condition. The earlier the condition is diagnosed and treated, the more likely it is that treatment will be successful.

There are several other potential symptoms of scoliosis, although these are rare and don’t occur in all instances. If the curvature of the spine is causing excess pressure on certain organs, then the symptoms may be more serious. These include shortness of breath, which is caused when the lungs are made to work harder than they should, and chest pain due to excess strain on the heart.


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