How is adult scoliosis diagnosed?

Before your doctor can suggest a treatment plan, if adult scoliosis is suspected, he/she will need to take a history. This may include questions about:

  • Family history
  • Date when you first noticed change in your spine
  • Curve progression (determined from earlier X-rays, if available)
  • Presence and location of pain, if any
  • Any bowel, bladder, or motor dysfunction, which may be signs of more serious nerve damage or pressure caused by scoliosis

In a physical exam your doctor will examine your back to check the shape of your spine and see how you move around. Your nerves may also be tested through reflex, sensation and muscle-strength checks.

If needed, your doctor may order X-rays. X-rays taken from the front and side will show a full picture of your spine. Your doctor can then determine if you have scoliosis and if so, to what degree.

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