You might think a spinal curvature would be easy enough to detect in a person, but the unpracticed eye cannot always tell whether there’s a spinal curvature or not.


Normal spines have normal curves that produce a slight rounding in the shoulder area and an inward curve in the lower back. But curvature is different. Curvature means an abnormal curve is developing, usually sideways.


Such curvatures come in an almost infinite variety of degrees and configurations, but for our purpose here, there are only two broad categories:


(a) Hidden Spinal Curvatures
(b) Obvious Spinal Curvatures


A hidden spinal curvature is usually a mild curvature which may worsen over time without proper treatment. Or there may be two curvatures which offset each other and therefore do not affect shoulders or hip levels.


Even in a member of your own family—perhaps a child you see every day—hidden spinal curvatures may lie undetected and gradually worsen before surfacing in the form of back pain and other serious health problems and


By then, it may be too late to correct the curvature, and preventing it from getting worse may be the only viable goal. It’s those hidden, mild curvatures — though potentially serious — that require a lot of skill in their detection, and yet another reason parents should not rely solely on their own powers of observation. That’s why chiropractic doctors recommend growing children get a chiropractic examination every six months, particularly during adolescence, in
order to nip any developing curvature in the bud.


Some spinal curvatures, though, become obvious early on and almost anyone can easily see what is happening. Such curvatures (when viewed from the rear) may resemble a letter S or an elongated C, depending on the number and
types of curves involved.


Progressive curvature in a spine can lead to pinched spinal nerves, scoliosis, spinal joint and disc degeneration, and other serious disorders including a distorted rib cage which cramps the heart and lungs.




Persons developing obvious spinal curvatures may show some of the following characteristics:


  • One shoulder higher than the other.
  • One hip higher or more prominent.
  • One shoulder blade more prominent.
  • The rib cage may stick out or “hump” on one side.
  • When the arms are hanging loosely at the sides, there may be more space between the arm and the body on one side.
  • Arms should be the same length.
  • Person may appear to lean to one side.
  • Even when the person stands as straight as possible, the spine may still not be straight.
  • Other clues include repeated tilting of the head to one side, uneven hems and waist bands, uneven bra straps, one pant leg hem riding higher than the other.


It’s very important that spinal curvatures be discovered as early as possible because prompt, intensive chiropractic treatment may slow or halt a progressive curvature and coax the spine along a straighter path.


Which child has a hidden spinal curvature? Your chiropractic doctor can tell!