What happens to the spine with AIS? 

Instead of growing straight, the spine develops a side-to-side curvature, usually in an elongated "S" of "C" shape; the bones of the spine are also slightly twisted or rotated.

Signs and Symptoms

There is usually no pain or neurological abnormalities associated with AIS. There are several visible symptoms associated with AIS and they include the following:

  • Rib hump: a prominence on one side of the rib due to the rotational aspect of the scoliosis.
  • Shoulder height asymmetry: one shoulder appears higher than another.
  • Trunkal shift: a shift of the body to the right or left resulting in the appearance of waistline asymmetry or unevenness. It may appear that one hip looks higher than the other.


Postural screening, such as Adams Bend testing, can be performed. This test can be done at school screenings, well-child checkups, etc.

Video: The Adams Bend Test

If your pediatrician is concerned that your child has scoliosis, they may order an X-ray. If the X-ray reveals a curvature greater than 10 degrees, they may refer your child to one of our spine specialists.

Your specialist may order a variety of studies to evaluate your child’s spine. These tests may include  additional X-rays, MRI or CT scans. Your specialist may also send you to the laboratory to have your child’s Vitamin D level checked. Once your child’s tests are complete, your specialist will review the plan of care for your child.


Not all patients initially require treatment. But they will need to be monitored by their physician. It is extremely important to see their specialist as directed.

Physical therapy may be beneficial for your child and your specialist may prescribe the Schroth Method for your child. 

Bracing may be prescribed for a child based on their skeletal maturity, size and flexibility of the curve.

Video: Scoliosis Bracing at CHKD


Patients with curvatures that continue to progress even after conservative treatment has been attempted require surgical intervention once their curve is greater than 50 degrees. Your child may be scheduled for a posterior spinal fusion repair or an anterior spinal fusion repair.

If your specialist has recommended your child will need to have a surgery, you will need to schedule your child for the preoperative spinal fusion class.

We understand that preparing for surgery can be hard. At CHKD our spine program coordinator is a registered nurse and will guide you throughout the process.