Symptoms of scoliosis 

Most people with scoliosis notice a change in the appearance of their shoulders, chest or hips.

Physical appearance

Signs of scoliosis include:

  • one shoulder being higher than the other
  • one shoulder blade being more prominent than the other
  • one hip being more prominent than the other
  • clothes not hanging properly
  • the child may lean to one side

If you or your child is usually in a wheelchair, there may be a tendency to lean to one side.

Make an appointment to see your GP if you notice any of the symptoms listed above in yourself or your child.

Back pain

Most cases of scoliosis do not cause back pain. However, the condition can become painful if the curvature of the spine worsens. This is more common in adults who had mild scoliosis that became gradually more severe.

The pain is usually located at the site of the curve, with nearby muscles also feeling sore and tender.

Some people find the pain is worse when they are sitting or standing and that it improves when they lie down flat on their back or on their side. In other cases, the back pain is constant, regardless of the position you are in.

You may feel pain that travels from your spine into your hip, legs or, less commonly, your arms. This can happen when you’re standing or walking.

Other symptoms

Although uncommon, scoliosis can also affect the nervous system. Problems occur when the bones in the spine compress on one or more nerve endings. This may lead to symptoms including:


Page last reviewed: 19/02/2013

Next review due: 19/02/2015