Scoliosis is often painless. The curvature itself may often be too subtle to be noticed, even by observant parents. Some parents may notice abnormal posture in their growing child that includes:
- A tilted head that does not line up over the hips
- A protruding shoulder blade
- One hip or shoulder that is higher than the other, causing an uneven hem or shirt line
- An uneven neckline
- Leaning more to one side than the other
- In developing girls, breasts appearing to be of unequal size
- One side of the upper back is higher than the other when the child bends over, knees together, with the arms dangling down
With more advanced scoliosis, fatigue may occur after prolonged sitting or standing. Scoliosis caused by muscle spasms or growths on the spine can sometimes cause pain. Nearly always, however, mild scoliosis produces no symptoms, and the condition is usually detected by a pediatrician or during a school screening test.
Review Date: 04/06/2010
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.