Hesperian Health Guides

Examining for Spinal Curve

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HealthWiki > Disabled Village Children > Chapter 20: Spinal Curve and Other Back Deformities > Examining for Spinal Curve

This is discussed in the chapter on physical examination.


  1. One shoulder higher than other
  2. One shoulder blade sticks out more.
  3. One hip is higher or sticks out more than the other.
  4. One arm hangs closer to body than the other.
  5. Sway back.
  6. Rounded shoulders or ’hump back’.
  7. A larger crease at one side of waist than other.
  8. Child stands sagging or leaning to one side.
  9. Rib hump (when child leans forward).
  10. A hump near the waist (when leaning forward).
  11. A brother, sister, parent, or close relative with scoliosis.

Look along the line of the back with the child bent over. DVC Ch20 Page 162-5.png
DVC Ch20 Page 162-3.png
child with a rib hump
a higher rib hump on one side
child with a rib hump
rib hump
The rib hump is formed because where the spine is curved, the vertebrae also are twisted to one side.


a child with scoliosis
one shoulder lower than the other
hip tilt
To see the curve better, mark the tip of each vertebra. The actual spinal curve is greater than the curve you have marked.
a spine with scoliosis
actual curve (as seen in X-rays)
overhead view of vertebrae
DVC Ch20 Page 162-9.png

When you examine for scoliosis, also check to see if the curve

can be straightened (non-fixed), or cannot be straightened (fixed).
DVC Ch20 Page 162-10.png
DVC Ch20 Page 162-11.png

This page was updated:21 Nov 2019