Most people never need treatment for scoliosis. You’ll need to visit your provider every few months so they can monitor any changes in your spine and make sure the curve caused by either levoscoliosis or dextroscoliosis isn’t getting more severe.
Levoscoliosis and dextroscoliosis are both specific types of scoliosis — an abnormal curvature of your spine. Your spine is naturally curved from front to back along the length of your back. Scoliosis makes your spine rotate and curve to one side.
Levoscoliosis is the name for scoliosis that makes your spine curve to the left. Dextroscoliosis is scoliosis that makes your spine curve to the right.
Most people who have mild levoscoliosis or mild dextroscoliosis don’t need treatment. If you have either of these conditions, a healthcare provider will check your spine every few months to make sure its curve isn’t getting worse.
If scoliosis curves your spine too much, you might need to wear a brace or have it surgically repaired.
The most obvious way levoscoliosis or dextroscoliosis affect your body is the unnatural curve in your spine.
Levoscoliosis usually affects your lumbar spine. Dextroscoliosis is more common in people’s thoracic spine. However, it’s possible to have levoscoliosis or dextroscoliosis in any area of your spine.
If the curve is severe enough, it can stress your back muscles or put pressure on the nerves connected to your spine.
It’s very rare, but severe scoliosis can damage organs near your spine, including your:
Both levoscoliosis and dextroscoliosis can affect any of the three main sections of your spine, including your:
Less than 5% of people experience scoliosis. It’s much more common in teens than in any other age group.
Scoliosis can run in families, and around 30% of people with scoliosis have an immediate relative (a parent, sibling or grandparent) with it.
Dextroscoliosis is more common than levoscoliosis.
Levoscoliosis and dextroscoliosis are different types of scoliosis. The difference is which way your spine curves.
Levoscoliosis makes your spine curve to the left. The curved part of your spine will look a little bit like a “C”.
Dextroscoliosis makes your spine curve to the right. It’s the opposite of levoscoliosis, and will give your spine a curve like a backward “C” or a circle with the left side missing.
Kids, teens and adults can all develop levoscoliosis and dextroscoliosis.
Most cases of scoliosis affect teens. Girls and people assigned female at birth are more likely to develop scoliosis than boys and people assigned male at birth.
It’s more common for children and adolescents to develop scoliosis in their thoracic spine. Adults are more likely to experience scoliosis in their lumbar spine.
It’s rare for any type of scoliosis to cause symptoms you’ll notice, like changes in your posture. It usually won’t cause you pain or discomfort. In fact, you might never know you have levoscoliosis or dextroscoliosis until you’re diagnosed with one of the conditions.
It’s usually easier for other people to notice changes in your posture, such as:
If you have a mild case of scoliosis, it might be hard (or impossible) to notice any signs until you’re screened for it.
Levoscoliosis and dextroscoliosis causes include:
It’s a common myth that slouching too much can cause scoliosis. This isn’t true. Scoliosis is never caused by having poor posture. Even though slouching, hunching or lifting poorly can harm your back health and posture, they can’t cause your spine to curve.
Similarly, scoliosis in kids and teens isn’t caused by playing sports or carrying a heavy backpack.
A healthcare provider will diagnose scoliosis with a physical exam.
They’ll have you remove your shirt and bend forward with your shoulders hanging loosely in front of you. This will let them see your spine clearly, including any unnatural curves caused by scoliosis. This test — sometimes called the Adam’s forward bend test — can also help your provider diagnosis kyphosis, a condition similar to scoliosis that makes your shoulders slump forward.
Lots of kids are screened for scoliosis in school too. If the screeners at your child’s school notice signs of scoliosis, they’ll let you know and you can visit your child’s usual provider for any follow up you’ll need.
Your provider might use a tool called a scoliometer in addition to looking at your spine. A scoliometer is a hand-held tool that looks like a mix of a ruler and a level. Your provider will place the scoliometer on your back to see if your spine is curving unnaturally. This test is more precise than a visual exam, and will help them confirm where your spine is curving, and in which direction.
If your provider notices signs of scoliosis in your spine during a physical exam or after using a scoliometer, you might need some imaging tests to help them know exactly what’s going on inside your body, including:
Your provider will diagnose you with either levoscoliosis or dextroscoliosis, depending on which direction your spine is curved.
Treating scoliosis isn’t like curing a disease — it’s more focused on making sure it doesn’t get worse over time. If the curve in your spine is mild, you’ll likely need to visit your provider every four to six months so they can monitor the scoliosis. They’ll check your spine and measure any changes in the curve. If it never gets worse, you won’t need any other treatment.
If the scoliosis keeps changing and makes your spine more curved, there are a few treatment options, including:
If you have levoscoliosis or dextroscoliosis you probably won’t have to change anything about your daily routine. Visit your provider as often as they suggest to monitor any changes in your spine.
You don’t have to stop exercising or playing sports with levoscoliosis or dextroscoliosis. In fact, staying active can help strengthen the muscles around your spine and help reduce any impacts scoliosis has on your body. If you need surgery to repair the curve in your spine, you might need to avoid certain physical activities while you’re recovering. Talk to your surgeon or provider about what to expect.
Talk to your provider if you notice any changes in your back, especially if you experience new symptoms like pain or a loss of feeling in your limbs.
Levoscoliosis and dextroscoliosis can’t be prevented.
Idiopathic scoliosis doesn’t have a cause. Degenerative scoliosis happens over time as the body ages. Congenital and neuromuscular scoliosis are caused by other health conditions, many of which you can’t prevent.
Levoscoliosis or dextroscoliosis shouldn’t have a major impact on your life. Most people with any form of scoliosis only need regular visits with their provider to make sure their spine isn’t changing too much.
You’ll technically live with scoliosis for the rest of your life, but once your spine stops moving, you won’t need any special treatment in the future.
If you do need treatment, you should expect to make a full recovery once your spine is stabilized either after bracing or surgery.
Talk to your provider about how often you need follow up visits. Most people with levoscoliosis or dextroscoliosis need their spines checked every four to six months.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Even if it sounds scary to learn that you or your child has a spine issue, scoliosis is rare, won’t cause pain and rarely requires treatment. Even if you or your child do need treatment for levoscoliosis or dextroscoliosis, you shouldn’t have any long-term complications.
Talk to your healthcare provider if you notice any changes in your back or spine, or if your child has uneven hips or shoulders.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/16/2022.
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