Levoscoliosis & Dextroscoliosis

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.


What are levoscoliosis and dextroscoliosis?

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.

Pediatric and adolescent scoliosis (the kind that affects kids and teens) is the most common form of scoliosis. People who develop scoliosis after puberty have adult scoliosis.

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.

How do levoscoliosis or dextroscoliosis affect my body?

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:

  • Heart.
  • Lungs.
  • Spinal cord.

Scoliosis and areas of your spine

Both levoscoliosis and dextroscoliosis can affect any of the three main sections of your spine, including your:

  • Cervical spine (your neck).
  • Thoracic spine (your upper back that runs from the bottom of your neck to the bottom of your ribs).
  • Lumbar spine (your lower back).

How common are levoscoliosis and dextroscoliosis?

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.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Levoscoliosis vs. dextroscoliosis

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.

Who does levoscoliosis and dextroscoliosis affect?

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.


Symptoms and Causes

What are the symptoms of levoscoliosis and dextroscoliosis?

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:

  • Your shoulders are uneven.
  • A noticeable curve in your spine when someone looks at it.
  • Uneven hips when you sit or stand.

If you have a mild case of scoliosis, it might be hard (or impossible) to notice any signs until you’re screened for it.

What causes levoscoliosis and dextroscoliosis?

Levoscoliosis and dextroscoliosis causes include:

  • Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common type. "Idiopathic" means that the cause is unknown, but because it runs in families, it has a genetic (hereditary) basis.
  • Congenital scoliosis is a rare birth defect.
  • Degenerative scoliosis is caused by wear and tear on your spine as you age. It’s the most common cause of adult scoliosis.
  • Neuromuscular scoliosis is caused by abnormalities in the muscles and nerves that support your spine. People with conditions like cerebral palsy, spina bifida and muscular dystrophy might develop it.

Scoliosis and posture

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.


Diagnosis and Tests

How are levoscoliosis and dextroscoliosis diagnosed?

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.

What tests will be done to diagnose this condition?

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.

Management and Treatment

How are levoscoliosis and dextroscoliosis treated?

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:

  • Bracing: You’ll wear a customized brace to support your spine and stop it from curving any further. These braces usually run from under your armpit to your hip. Your provider will tell you how often you should wear your brace, and how long you’ll need to wear it. Most people need to wear their brace for at least 20 hours a day.
  • Scoliosis surgery: It’s rare to need scoliosis surgery. If the curve is severe enough — or it keeps getting worse over time — your provider might recommend a spinal fusion. You might also need bone grafting to help straighten your spine and lessen its curve. Your surgeon or provider will tell you which kind of surgery you’ll need and how long it will take you to recover.
  • The Schroth method: Some cases of scoliosis can be treated with a type of physical therapy known as the Schroth method. It’s usually used to treat pediatric scoliosis. Your provider or a physical therapist will give your child stretches, posture-correcting movements and breathing exercises to perform. These motions will strengthen the muscles around your child’s spine to help their vertebrae return to a more natural curve.

How do I take care of myself?

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.


How can I prevent levoscoliosis or dextroscoliosis?

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.

Outlook / Prognosis

What can I expect if I have levoscoliosis or dextroscoliosis?

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.

Living With

When should I see my healthcare provider?

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.

What questions should I ask my doctor?

  • Which type of scoliosis do I have?
  • How often do I need to have my spine checked in the future?
  • Will I need to wear a brace?
  • Will I need surgery in the future?

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.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/16/2022.

Learn more about our editorial process.

Appointments 216.444.2606