Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Back Pain Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Spinal Curves in Scoliosis - Topic Overview

Doctors use X-ray images of a person's spine to measure spinal curvature. A curve or angle of the spine is measured in degrees and describes how severe the curve is. (The angle is determined by the intersection of lines projected from the top and bottom of the curve.) If the spine is straight, there is no angle; this would be a 0-degree curve. If the spine is curved, the angle can be measured. The larger the curve, the larger the angle or degree measurement. For example, a 10-degree curve is considered a mild curve, and a 50-degree curve is considered a severe curve.

Many people have some curve in their spine. In fact, spinal curves that are less than 10 degrees are considered a normal variation of the spine. Curves that are greater than 10 degrees may be monitored (to see whether the curve is getting worse) or may need treatment.

Recommended Related to Back Pain

Understanding Back Pain -- Prevention

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key to helping prevent back pain. Excess weight puts a strain on the back, so maintaining a healthy weight is important. Regular exercise, especially core work, keeps the abdominal and back muscles firm. Smoking ages the spine, so avoid smoking and inhaling secondhand smoke. Practicing good posture is another way to help prevent back pain. First, analyze your posture by standing with your heels against a wall. Your calves, buttocks, shoulders, and the back of your...

Read the Understanding Back Pain -- Prevention article > >

In addition to the severity of the curve, curves are described by their direction and location.

  • Direction is based on which way the curve bends away from the center of the body. For example, if the inner side of the curve is to the right, it is called a right curve.
  • Location is determined by the spinal bone at the center of the curve. The spine is divided into three parts: neck region (cervical), chest area (thoracic), and lower back (lumbar). A curve may be labeled according to the number of spinal bones involved. For example, T5 to T12 means that the curve involves the 5th through the 12th chest (thoracic) spinal bones.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
1
Next Article:

Spinal Curves in Scoliosis Topics

Today on WebMD

Woman holding lower back
Or is it another form of back pain?
Hand on back
See the myths vs. the facts.
 
Woman doing pilates
Good and bad exercises.
acupuncture needles in woman's back
Use it to manage your pain.
 
Man with enhanced spinal column, rear view
Video
pain in brain and nerves
Slideshow
 
Chronic Pain Healtcheck
Health Check
break at desk
Article
 
Woman holding lower back
Slideshow
Weight Loss Surgery
Slideshow
 
lumbar spine
Slideshow
back pain
Article