Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine that most often shows up during a child’s growth spurts before puberty. Both boys and girls can develop mild scoliosis, though the curve worsens more often in girls. Mild scoliosis doesn’t typically cause further medical problems, but complications can arise from more severe cases. It can appear to run in families, but most kids with scoliosis don’t have a family history.
Whether mild or severe, the most noticeable effects of scoliosis are generally the appearance changes caused by a twisting spine. However, there are four subtle changes in a child’s posture or figure that might indicate scoliosis.
1. Uneven Shoulders
The most obvious change caused by scoliosis is the change in the spine’s curve. When scoliosis is present, the spine curves to one side rather than dropping straight down the back. If one shoulder appears to rest at a higher level than the other in a child, it may indicate spinal curving.
2. Single Prominent Shoulder Blade
When the spine curves, it can cause a person’s shoulder blades to lose their symmetry. One shoulder blad may appear a bit higher or stick out a bit further than the other. If your child’s shoulder blades don’t appear roughly level with each other, you should let their doctor know.
3. Uneven Waist and Hips
As with the other appearance changes caused by scoliosis, a curving spine can cause a child’s waist and hips to rest in an uneven position. Often, one hip will appear raised and can’t be straightened.
4. Prominent Rib Cage
A twisting spinal column can also cause a child’s rib cage to stick out more or appear uneven. Children who rest at a position with their chest thrust out should visit a doctor for an exam and screening.