Loading icon
Press enter or spacebar to select a desired language.
Health Information Center

Diagnosis of Scoliosis

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:

Condition InDepth

Diagnosis of Scoliosis

Scoliosis is often found during a routine school testing or an exam. A study is done to measure the curve. A child will be checked often. This is to see whether the curve changes and if it needs to be treated.

These tests may be done:

Forward bend test—With feet and knees together, the child is asked to bend down with arms dangling. The person testing will stand behind the child and then in front. They will check for a curve or uneven look in the rib cage, hipbones, or shoulder blades.

Inclinometer or scoliometer —This tool measures the amount of curve in the upper and lower back. The child will be asked to stand with feet and knees together. The child will bend down until the curve in the top of the back is seen and measured. Then the child will be asked to lean over more. This is so the curve in the lower back is seen and measured.

Back x-rays—This is the best method. The x-ray can find scoliosis. The Cobb method will measure how much curve a child has.

MRI scan—MRI scans can also be used to find and watch for changes. They are often done in those who may have another back problem.


  • Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/adolescent-idiopathic-scoliosis. Accessed May 12, 2022.
  • Congenital scoliosis and kyphosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/congenital-scoliosis-and-kyphosis. Accessed May 12, 2022.
  • Idiopathic scoliosis in children and adolescents. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/idiopathic-scoliosis-in-children-and-adolescents. Accessed May 12, 2022.
  • Infantile and juvenile idiopathic scoliosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/infantile-and-juvenile-idiopathic-scoliosis. Accessed May 12, 2022.
  • Scoliosis in children and adolescents. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/scoliosis. Accessed May 12, 2022.


  • Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.