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, too, may 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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