There are many visible symptoms associated with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. One of the most common is shoulder height asymmetry, in which one shoulder appears higher than the other (see figure 1A). A shift of the body to the right or the left can occur especially when there is a single curve in the thoracic (chest-part) or the lumbar (lower back) of the spine without a second curve to help balance the patient. This is often seen as some waistline asymmetry in which one hip appears to be higher than the other and may result in one leg appearing taller than the other (see figure 1B). A prominence on the back or a rib hump secondary to the rotational aspect of the scoliosis is the most visible sign of scoliosis (see figures 1C and 1D).
Patients with AIS have a normal appearance when viewed from the side. In general, there are no neurologic abnormalities such as weakness or changes in a patients feeling in the upper or lower extremities (see figure 1E).
Figure 1: A) Shoulder asymmetry (note how the left shoulder is higher in the right). B) Waistline asymmetry and the body shifted to the right. C&D) Rib prominence tends to correlate with the size of the curve. E) Patients typically look normal when viewed from the side.
The Scoliosis Research Society provides information on these web pages regarding research and links as a public service. The SRS believes that patients should contact their treating physician about the relevance of any information listed on the site prior to proceeding with any particular treatment. Just as no two individuals are exactly alike, no two patients with a spinal deformity are the same. Therefore, your spinal deformity surgeon will be the most important source of information about the management of your particular spinal problem.