The purpose of screening is early diagnosis and treatment. Screening tests are usually administered to people without current symptoms, but who may be at high risk for certain diseases or conditions. For scoliosis there is no evidence that early detection by screening will have any benefit in the long run.
Professional organizations differ regarding whether children should receive screening for scoliosis. However, many states mandate screening in schools. Scoliosis screening is done using the methods listed below. Each state has different regulations on what age screening takes place. Adolescents are at highest risk to develop idiopathic scoliosis during their rapid growth phase. As a result, screening may be done anytime from middle school through high school.
If scoliosis is identified, then the family will receive educational materials about scoliosis, and the child will be referred to their primary care physican for further evaluation.
A back exam should be part of a thorough well-child check-up.
Tests may include:
Adam's forward bend test
—With feet and knees together, you will be asked to bend forward with your arms dangling. The screening person will stand first behind you and then in front of you to check for any visible curvature, or any uneven appearance in your rib cage, hipbones, or shoulder blades.
Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116647/Adolescent-idiopathic-scoliosis. Updated March 18, 2017. Accessed May 16, 2017.
Congenital scoliosis and kyphosis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T908760/Congenital-scoliosis-and-kyphosis. Updated January 19, 2016. Accessed May 16, 2017.
Infantile and juvenile idiopathic scoliosis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T908759/Infantile-and-juvenile-idiopathic-scoliosis. Updated July 13, 2016. Accessed May 16, 2017.
Richards S, Vitale M. Screening for idiopathic scoliosis in adolescents. an information statement.
J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2008;90(1):195-198.
What is scoliosis? Fast facts: An easy-to-read series of publications for the public. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at:
https://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Scoliosis/scoliosis_ff.asp. Updated November 2014. Accessed May 16, 2017.
Last reviewed May 2017 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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