Perform a DIY Scoliosis Screening
If you're concerned you or your child may have spinal curvature (scoliosis), here's a quick test you can perform at home to help you identify whether there is likely to be an underlying problem.
What is scoliosis?
Scoliosis is a condition involving a sideways curvature of the spine. It affects roughly 2 to 3% of the population and usually develops as a teenager. Read more.
You can perform the following two tests at home or anywhere for that matter, but will need a second person to observe. While the tests can both be performed fully clothed, it's beneficial if you remove your top for the second test.
The Standing Test
1. Examinee - stand up straight, so that you feel comfortable and are not straining.
2. Observer - stand behind the examinee and look for signs of asymmetry:
Do the clothes appear to be aligned?
Are the ears at the same height? Are they at the same distance away from you?
Does one sleeve look longer than the other?
Is one side of the belt/trousers/skirt higher than the other?
3. Observer - repeat the observations above and also consider:
Are the eyes and eyebrows at the same height?
The Adams Bend Forward Test 
1. Examinee - remove your top so that your spine is visible.
2. Observer - stand behind the examinee.
3. Examinee - with arms extended and palms together, bend forward at the waist slowly until your body is at a ninety-degree angle with your feet and your arms are hanging towards the floor.
4. Observer - watch for signs of asymmetry as the examinee bends forward:
Does the spine appear straight (in the vertical plane)?
Are the shoulder and hips even or is one side higher than the other?
Is one side of the rib cage higher than the other?
Are the clothes straight (in both vertical and horizontal planes)?
5. Observer - repeat the same observations while standing in front of the examinee.
Because Adam's forward bend test is more sensitive than the Scoliometer, the authors believe that it remains the best noninvasive clinical test to evaluate scoliosis.
- Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1998 Apr 1;23(7):796-802; discussion 803.
Assessing the results
If all observations indicated symmetry, that's good news. If you're experiencing pain or discomfort related to the back or neck, then scoliosis is less likely to be the cause.
If there were one or more signs of asymmetry, there's a greater chance that your condition is structural and you may be living with scoliosis. There are varying degrees of severity with scoliosis, but the earlier the condition is diagnosed the greater the chance for improvement or prevention of further deterioration. Read more.
Seek out a chiropractor for a full physical assessment and diagnosis of your condition. You'll then be walked through the treatment options should you require it.
1. Adams W. Lectures on the Pathology and Treatment of Lateral and Other Forms of Curvature of the Spine, 2nd ed. London; J & A Churchill, 1882.