Helpful Information

Scoliosis: What It Is and How We Can Help

Scoliosis is simply defined as a sideways curvature of the spine. Often, it is diagnosed in childhood or early adolescence, and it typically occurs during the growth spurt just before puberty. While most cases of scoliosis are mild, some can cause severe and debilitating pain. 

Below, we share more information about scoliosis, its symptoms and how we can help treat and manage it.

What is Scoliosis?

Like we said before, scoliosis is a sideways (lateral) curvature of the spine. The spine normally curves at the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spinal regions. This enables your head to be over the pelvis, helping your body best absorb the shock of daily movement. When someone has scoliosis their back often has a curve a bit like a backward C shape with the spine bending sideways to the right. There are four common types of scoliosis curves: right thoracic, right thoracolumbar, right lumbar and double major. For more detailed information on the types of scoliosis curves, click here.

What are the Symptoms of Scoliosis?

Unfortunately, it’s very rare to show signs or symptoms in the early stages of scoliosis unless your curvature progresses beyond 20 degrees. But, there are several signs to look for including:

  • Uneven shoulders
  • Head not centered above pelvis
  • One or both hips are raised
  • Waist or ribccages are uneven
  • Entire body leans to one side

And, according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, nearly 23% of patients present with back pain at the time of diagnosis. If you or a loved one is experiencing pain and any of the symptoms above, we recommend reaching out to a spine specialist.

How Do We Diagnose Scoliosis?

Scoliosis can be confirmed through a variety of ways including a physical exam, x-ray, spinal radiograph, CT scan or MRI. We measure the curve by the Cobb Method, which involves a patient standing while a front view x-ray of the spine is taken. The doctor will then use the x-ray to locate the apex (center) of the curve and the most tilted vertebra to determine the angle of the curve. 

What Can We Do to Help?

While most cases of scoliosis don’t require treatment, there are some instances where a patient may need to wear a back brace for a period of time or undergo surgery. If you have this condition or care for someone that does, we would love to help you find the best solution for your spine and lifestyle. Our goal is to have our patients back to their normal lives as soon as possible. Request an appointment with Dr. Petersen to start treating your scoliosis, today.


Dr. Bendt P. Petersen is an orthopaedic and neurospine surgical specialist with over twenty years in operative clinical practice. He is a fellowship-trained surgeon whose practice is the only one in the Mobile-area devoted exclusively to the treatment of your spine.

The Center for Spine Health employs the most advanced operative and nonoperative therapies in concert with the most highly-trained physical therapists and other advanced ancillary practitioners to help you live the life you want to live.

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