How is scoliosis diagnosed in children?

The standard screening test for scoliosis is the "Adam's forward bend test." During the test, your child will bend forward with feet together, knees straight and arms hanging free. Your doctor will observe your child from the back, looking for a difference in the shape of the ribs on each side. A spinal deformity is most noticeable in this position.

With your child standing upright, your doctor will also check to see if the hips and shoulders are level, and if the position of the head is centered over the hips. He or she will check the movement of the spine in all directions. To rule out other causes of spinal deformity, your doctor will check for limb-length discrepancies, abnormal neurological findings, and other physical problems.

X-rays will provide clear images of the bones in your child's spine. They allow your doctor to see the exact location of the curve and to measure how severe it is. In general, curves greater than 25° are considered serious enough to require treatment.