A doctor may test a young person for scoliosis during a routine physical exam. In schools, screening may be provided annually for students between the ages of 10 and 14 (grades 5 through 9). The exam takes about 30 seconds and may be done by a school nurse or physical education teacher.The examiner first views the child from behind, looking for uneven shoulders, hips, or waistline or for shoulder blades that stick out or are uneven.The child then bends forward from the waist, with the arms hanging down loosely and the palms touching (forward-bending test). The examiner looks for any unevenness, such as one side of the rib cage that is higher than the other. The examiner may also view the child from the side to detect a hump on the upper back (kyphosis).Also, the examiner may measure the angle of trunk rotation (ATR) with a device called a scoliometer. Some states require screening for scoliosis by law. But health experts don't agree with whether or not to screen for scoliosis.1, 2
The cosmetic aspects of scoliosis and the braces used to treat it may greatly affect a child or teen.Teenagers may find wearing a brace devastating to their self-image. Most braces should be worn for 20 hours a day or more, usually for several years. It is very difficult to get teens to wear the brace for as many hours as their doctors recommend. They don't like how the braces look or feel. Also, wearing a brace may limit activities such as horseback riding, skiing, skating, and gymnastics. Other activities, though, such as biking, tennis, running, and jumping, are safe to do while the brace is worn. It is typically recommended that children be allowed to remove their braces to take part in physical education classes and other highly desired activities. This may encourage better use of the brace.Newer braces are designed to improve the chances they will be worn as recommended.