How to spot the visual signs of scoliosis

Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis patient before and after bracing.

How to spot the visual signs of scoliosis

BY Daisy

01 June 2023

Understanding how to spot the signs and symptoms of scoliosis can help parents detect the condition earlier. This leads to better treatment outcomes for scoliosis patients and can reduce the need for spinal surgery later in life.


Scoliosis is a condition where the spine becomes curved and twisted. Approximately three to four in every 1,000 children in the UK have some form of scoliosis. It mostly affects children between the ages of 10 and 15 years old and is also more common in females than males.

Scoliosis can affect people of all ages, but it is most commonly diagnosed during adolescence when growth spurts occur. This is known as adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Scoliosis can also develop in infants or adults due to other underlying conditions.

In the 1980s, the practice of screening for scoliosis in schools was discontinued. Evidence suggests that this has led to delayed diagnosis of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis in the general population. In practical terms, much of the responsibility now falls on parents to identify the early signs of scoliosis.

How to tell if your child has scoliosis. Look for symptoms like their head not being centred over the body, one shoulder higher than the other, leaning to one side and one hip appearing more prominent than the other.

How can you tell if your child has scoliosis? We’ve compiled a helpful guide on what to look out for.

The visual signs of scoliosis include:

  • a visibly curved spine
  • one shoulder higher than another
  • hip or waist unevenly sticking out (one hip seeming more prominent than the other)
  • rib cage sticking out on one side – also known as ‘rib hump’ – which can be especially noticeable from the back
  • head not centred over the body when standing
  • difficulty standing up straight
  • back pain
  • a difference in leg length
  • a prominent rib cage
  • pain in the legs or pins and needles, caused by pressure in the nerves

Scoliosis awareness and education are essential for parents, teachers, and healthcare professionals. Understanding the signs and symptoms of scoliosis can help in early detection and prompt intervention. All of which can improve the long-term bracing outcomes for individuals with scoliosis.

Scoliosis can progress quickly in adolescence while the skeleton is still growing or during hormonal changes so if you are concerned about your child please contact us.



Adolescent scoliosis patient showing spinal curve before and after bracing treatment at the London Orthotic Consultancy

Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis patient before and after bracing treatment at LOC.

Female adolescent scoliosis patient before and after bracing treatment showing an improvement in posture and a reduction in the spinal curve

Another adolescent scoliosis patient displaying the visual signs of scoliosis on the left, and showing an improvement after bracing treatment on the right.

We've Got Your Back - Embracing Scoliosis Awareness Month at LOC

We've Got Your Back - Embracing Scoliosis Awareness Month at LOC

Are you worried that your child may have scoliosis?

We offer a free initial virtual scoliosis consultation for those seeking scoliosis treatment. This initial free virtual consultation can be carried out through Skype, Facetime or Zoom.

This will give you the opportunity to talk directly to one of our specialist clinicians about your child’s scoliosis. During this 15-minute appointment, your clinician will be able to answer any detailed questions or concerns you might have prior to booking a face-face assessment with us.

Get in Touch

Find out more information about the LOC Scoliosis Brace

If you think your child, adolescent or adult family member has scoliosis, you can contact LOC directly to arrange a consultation at one of our scoliosis clinics.

If your child has recently been diagnosed with scoliosis or you think they are showing signs of the condition, please contact us.


Scoliosis is a condition where there is an abnormal curvature of the spine. It is a three-dimensional condition with deviation of the vertebrae in the sagittal, coronal and transverse planes.

Treatment recommendations are based on the Cobb angle of the patient and the risk of progression. For curves under 20 degrees LOC monitors the patient’s curve while the patient undertakes a tailored exercise programme based on Schroth principles; this is delivered by our partner in providing scoliosis treatment – Scoliosis SOS. For curves above 20 degrees, LOC prescribes its LOC Scoliosis Brace which works three-dimensionally to guide the patient’s spine into a more correct position, substantially reducing their Cobb angle. For optimum correction, we recommend that bracing is combined with specialist physiotherapy. This joint approach means our patients are getting the best and most appropriate advice from two scoliosis specialists, one with an orthotic perspective and one with a physiotherapy perspective.

LOC makes the vast majority of orthotics we fit, and our scoliosis brace is no exception. It is difficult to over-emphasize how important it is to have our own manufacturing unit on site. Lead times are shorter because we are not reliant on outside suppliers, and we can fine-tune our braces at the fitting stage to ensure optimum efficacy and comfort.

The general protocol in the UK is that if an x-ray is taken in-brace, a ‘good’ brace should aim to reduce the original curve by 50%.

At LOC, we often refer patients for a rapid low dose scan to confirm the efficiency of our braces following the fitting. This scan is typically performed at the 2-month mark in other braces, and changes are then made to improve the fit of the brace and the correction in the brace. We have found that a rapid scan gives the clinician a very clear indication as to the correction that will be achieved, whilst ensuring no time is wasted (and therefore correction lost) while waiting for this scan.

Whilst it varies from patient to patient, the LOC Scoliosis Brace offers more than 50% skeletal correction. To the extreme, we have seen corrections exceeding 100% (as below) in the LOC Scoliosis Brace, which is why these braces can be termed ‘over-corrective’. In these instances, it is possible to proceed with reduced brace wearing hours, or if full time bracing is still indicated, the brace can be altered. This ‘over-correction’ gives the wearer the greatest chance at skeletal correction. If for any reason, our clinician is not fully satisfied with the skeletal in-brace correction after receiving the x-ray, the brace will be re-modelled and re-made (free of charge) as part of a multi-colleague meeting – this ensures all our patients are in gold standard braces, whilst not losing any possible corrective time in-brace.

Typically, there is an initial consultation followed by a fitting appointment and then pre- and post-reviews after in-brace x-rays; thereafter reviews every three months until the end of treatment. For the majority of our patients who are adolescents, we believe it is essential that there are regular assessments and reviews to ensure that the brace is fitting well; we will make tiny adjustments to the brace to ensure optimum comfort and optimum correction. We have found that comfort is a major contributor to an individual’s compliance with the prescribed wearing regime. In addition, the close contact between patient and clinician ensures patient motivation resulting in better outcomes at the treatment end.

We are pleased to offer a free-of-charge, virtual assessment should you wish to be screened for scoliosis. If we feel a referral to an Orthopaedic Consultant is warranted, we recommend a consultation at The Wimbledon Clinic, Parkside with Mr Darren Lui, Mr Jason Bernard or Mr Tim Bishop. The consultant would arrange the imaging as required. Obviously, you can also seek advice from your family GP.




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