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Understanding Mild Scoliosis Symptoms: What You Need to Know

mild scoliosis symptoms

Scoliosis ranges widely in severity from mild scoliosis to moderate scoliosis and severe to very severe scoliosis. The more severe scoliosis is, the more noticeable its effects are likely to be. While mild, scoliosis can be highly treatable, hence the importance of a proactive treatment approach.

What you need to know about mild scoliosis symptoms is that without treatment, the condition, and its symptoms, are unlikely to stay mild. Scoliosis is a progressive condition so has it in its nature to get worse over time. Common symptoms of mild scoliosis in children involve subtle postural changes.

As scoliosis severity is such a key factor that treatment plans are shaped around, let's start with how condition severity is determined.

Cobb Angle Measurement and Condition Severity

To reach a diagnosis of scoliosis, there are a number of parameters that have to be met; there are, after all, a number of spinal conditions that cause a loss of its healthy curves.

Scoliosis causes the development of an unnatural side to side curve of the spine, and an X-ray is needed to confirm there is a rotational element present; the spine twisting makes scoliosis a 3-dimensional condition.

In addition, an X-ray is needed to determine a measurement known as Cobb angle, and this is taken by drawing lines from the most-tilted vertebrae at the top and bottom of the curve, and the resulting angle is expressed in degrees.

In a healthy spine, its vertebrae are aligned as they should be and the spine's healthy curves are in place in each of the spine's main sections: cervical spine (neck), the thoracic spine (middle/upper back), and the lumbar spine (lower back).

The higher a patient's Cobb angle measurement, the more misaligned the spine is, and the more severe the condition:

  • Mild scoliosis is diagnosed with Cobb angle measurements of between 10 and 25 degrees
  • Moderate scoliosis involves Cobb angle measurements of between 25 and 40 degrees
  • Severe scoliosis is diagnosed with a Cobb angle of 40+ degrees and very severe scoliotic curves are 80+ degrees

Condition severity is a factor that treatment plans are shaped around, and as a progressive condition, where a patient's scoliosis is at the time of diagnosis doesn't mean that's where it will stay.

Most cases of scoliosis involve idiopathic scoliosis (no known causes), and this accounts for approximately 80 percent of known diagnosed cases, while the remaining 20 percent are associated with known causes: neuromuscular scoliosis, congenital scoliosis, and degenerative scoliosis.

All types of scoliosis are progressive.

Scoliosis is Progressive

the more severe a 400Even a diagnosis of mild scoliosis doesn't mean a patient's scoliosis symptoms will stay mild, and that's because as a progressive condition, its nature is to get worse over time.

We don't always know why scoliosis develops, but we know what makes it get worse: growth.

As growth triggers progression, children are more at risk for rapid progression than adults, for whom the progressive trigger of growth is removed.

So being diagnosed with mild scoliosis doesn't mean it won't progress to become moderate, severe, or very severe scoliosis.

The more severe a condition, the more noticeable the condition's effects tend to be, and in mild scoliosis, its effects can be subtle, making early detection a challenge.

Mild Scoliosis Symptoms

As children are more commonly diagnosed with scoliosis, we'll focus on the condition's most-prevalent form, adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, diagnosed between the ages of 10 and 18; this age group is the most at risk for rapid phase progression because of the rapid and unpredictable growth spurts of puberty.

Scoliosis introduces a lot of uneven forces to the spine, its surroundings, and the entire body, and in children, its main effect is disrupting the body's overall symmetry through postural changes.

And postural changes will become more overt as the size of the unnatural spinal curve is increasing, as are the condition's effects.

Mild Postural Changes

In many cases, common postural changes caused by mild scoliosis can involve uneven shoulders and hips, but the asymmetry can be subtle and difficult for anyone, other than a scoliosis expert, to detect.

In addition, mild scoliosis isn't associated with functional deficits, and as scoliosis doesn't become a compressive condition until skeletal maturity has been reached, mild childhood scoliosis isn't commonly painful: another barrier to early detection.

The Signs of Mild Scoliosis

Mild Scoliosis and Pain

In adults, however, mild scoliosis can involve back pain because the condition becomes compressive once skeletal maturity has been reached; in children who are still growing, their spines are experiencing a constant lengthening motion that counteracts the compressive force of the unnatural spinal curve.

It's compression of the spine and its surrounding muscles and nerves that causes the majority of condition-related pain, and as adults, particularly older adults, are also facing changes to spinal health related to spinal degeneration, even mild scoliosis can be painful.

Adults also experience postural changes such as a prominent lean to one side that's most noticeable when bending forward.

Scoliosis pain in adults can include muscle pain, back pain, and pain that radiates into the extremities due to nerve compression (arm and leg pain).

When Mild Scoliosis Becomes Moderate Scoliosis

There are no treatment guarantees, and there is also no definitive means by which we can determine precisely how much, or how fast, a patient's condition will progress, but we do know that virtually all cases of scoliosis will experience curve progression at some point.

Particularly if left untreated, or not treated proactively, mild scoliosis can become moderate scoliosis, and as scoliosis progresses, its symptoms become more noticeable and can include disruptions to balance, coordination, and gait.

It's once mild scoliosis progresses and becomes moderate scoliosis that most children are diagnosed because this is often when its symptoms become noticeable enough to lead to a diagnosis and treatment; the majority of my patients are diagnosed with moderate scoliosis.

What I really want patients to understand is that knowing the condition's early stages, and responding to a diagnosis of mild scoliosis proactively with treatment started as close to the time of diagnosis as possible, can lead to treatment success.

Mild scoliosis is simpler to treat than moderate scoliosis, just as moderate scoliosis is simpler to treat than severe and very severe scoliosis.

So if a diagnosis of mild scoliosis is given, what are the treatment options that can help prevent it from becoming moderate and severe?

What is Mild Scoliosis?

Conservative Treatment for Mild Scoliosis in Children

There are two main ways to treat scoliosis: with surgical treatment or nonsurgical treatment.

Here at the Scoliosis Reduction Center, patients benefit from a proactive conservative chiropractic-centered treatment approach that has the goal of keeping mild scoliosis mild, preventing progression, and the need for invasive surgical treatment in the future.

Conservative treatments are integrative; the complex nature of scoliosis necessitates the customization of effective treatment plans.

treating scoliosis while it's 400Treating scoliosis while it's mild means when the spine is most likely to respond well; it's going to be at its most flexible as spinal rigidity increases with progression, making it less responsive to treatment.

Condition-specific chiropractic care involves a number of techniques and manual adjustments that work towards adjusting the position of the most unnaturally-tilted vertebrae back into alignment with the rest of the spine.

Once the condition's underlying structural nature is impacted through a curvature reduction, I shift focus to increasing strength of the core muscles so they can optimally support the spine, and this is worked towards through physical therapy and scoliosis-specific exercises.

For children whose spines are still growing, wearing a back brace can be a key facet of treatment, and corrective bracing can help by pushing the spine into a corrective position, complementing other treatment disciplines applied.

Rehabilitation is the continued care needed to sustain treatment results; remember, as a progressive condition, scoliosis is incurable, so treatment is about managing a life-long condition.

While nothing can guarantee treatment results, early detection and intervention is associated with treatment success, and a diagnosis is reached through a physical exam and X ray imaging to see what's really happening in and around the spine: to confirm a rotational component and determine the patient's Cobb angle measurement.


Mild scoliosis symptoms can be subtle, making early detection a challenge, and scoliosis that's diagnosed as mild is unlikely to stay that way without the help of proactive treatment; only a proactive treatment approach can work towards counteracting the condition's progressive nature.

When I diagnose a child with mild scoliosis, we have a good chance of treatment success because treatment is started immediately and early in the condition's progressive line.

The best time to start treatment for a progressive condition like scoliosis is always now, regardless of patient age or severity.

Symptoms of scoliosis will become more overt as the condition progresses, and this means the size of the unnatural spinal curve is increasing, as are the condition's uneven forces, and their effects.

Common symptoms of mild scoliosis include uneven shoulders, one shoulder blade protruding more than the other, and uneven hips with one hip sticking out more than the other; as scoliosis progresses, additional changes can include the development of a rib cage arch, an uneven waist line, and arms and legs that appear to hang at different lengths.

Changes to the way a person walks are also common, along with disruptions to balance, coordination, and gait.

If left untreated, scoliosis is virtually guaranteed to get worse, and the more severe a condition gets, the more likely it is to cause complications and need invasive spinal fusion surgery in the future.

An unnatural curve of the spine should always be taken seriously, particularly in children who are still growing as growth is what triggers progression.

Ready to discuss next steps for scoliosis treatment? Reach out to us here.
Dr. Tony Nalda
Doctor of Chiropractic
Severe migraines as a young teen introduced Dr. Nalda to chiropractic care. After experiencing life changing results, he set his sights on helping others who face debilitating illness through providing more natural approaches.

After receiving an undergraduate degree in psychology and his Doctorate of Chiropractic from Life University, Dr. Nalda settled in Celebration, Florida and proceeded to build one of Central Florida’s most successful chiropractic clinics.

His experience with patients suffering from scoliosis, and the confusion and frustration they faced, led him to seek a specialty in scoliosis care. In 2006 he completed his Intensive Care Certification from CLEAR Institute, a leading scoliosis educational and certification center.
About Scoliosis Reduction Center
Welcome to Scoliosis Reduction Center. Our team, under the leadership of Dr. Tony Nalda, is focused on treating your scoliosis in the most patient-centered, effective manner possible.
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