Mild scoliosis means that your spine has curved at least 10 degrees more than expected but less than 20 degrees. You may not experience any symptoms with mild scoliosis, but it’s important to monitor it to ensure the curve doesn’t progress.

Approximately 6–9 million people in the United States are affected by scoliosis, but not all of these individuals will experience scoliosis to the same degree. Some individuals will require surgery to correct their spinal curve, and others will need braces. Some will have much milder cases of scoliosis.

If you or someone you know has mild scoliosis, you may wonder what this means for symptoms and treatment. People with mild scoliosis usually have a good outlook, and you may not feel pain or need treatment. You’ll still want to speak with a doctor about your specific health needs.

Scoliosis is a condition where the vertebrae of your spine curve abnormally in an S or C formation. Doctors frequently use X-rays and a measure called the Cobb’s angle to classify and treat an individual’s scoliosis. Mild scoliosis means that the curve of an individual’s spine is 10–20 degrees more than expected.

People with curves between 20 and 40 degrees are considered to have moderate scoliosis. Braces are often recommended to help treat scoliosis at this point. Once an individual has a curve that surpasses 40 degrees it can interfere with their internal organ’s ability to function, and surgery may be necessary. This is considered severe scoliosis.

If you’re interested in learning more about scoliosis generally, you can read more here.

Many individuals with mild scoliosis will have no other symptoms, and they may experience no pain from it.

If scoliosis becomes more severe over time, individuals may develop symptoms such as:

  • uneven shoulders, hips, or ribs
  • having their head not centered above their pelvis
  • a shoulder or hip sticking out
  • their body leaning lopsided to one side
  • back pain
  • weakness in the lower extremities
  • trouble walking, gait imbalance

The cause of an individual’s scoliosis is unknown about 8 out of every 10 times.

Doctors believe hormones, genes, and changes in cell structure may play a role. This type of scoliosis is known as idiopathic scoliosis, and it’s impossible to prevent.

Other cases of scoliosis have been linked to:

Scoliosis can develop at different ages. In particular, adolescent scoliosis worsens during the pubertal growth spurt, and degenerative scoliosis in older people can lead to worsening joints, osteoporosis, and other issues.

Mild scoliosis doesn’t typically have a significant impact on an individual’s life or life span.

While it can occasionally cause some pain, it’s not usually considered a serious condition unless it continues to progress to moderate or severe scoliosis.

Most people can live a completely normal life with mild scoliosis.

If your doctor suggests wearing a brace to prevent your scoliosis from becoming worse, you may experience some body or self-esteem issues. There are support groups that can help you with this.

In many cases, the only treatment you’d need for mild scoliosis is extra doctor visits for observation and monitoring. A doctor may recommend regular X-rays to ensure that the curve doesn’t get worse.

If you experience back pain as a result of their scoliosis, over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications such as ibuprofen may help.

Some individuals may be interested in therapies to help their scoliosis, but there’s very little reliable research indicating that osteopathy and chiropractic care can improve one’s curve.

Recommendations for scoliosis treatment in Europe and from the Society on Scoliosis Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Treatment do include scoliosis-specific exercises. Depending on the degree of your curve, these exercises can be done by yourself or in combination with a brace and after surgery.

It’s not entirely clear if back exercises will help resolve scoliosis or prevent it from advancing, but exercise is generally beneficial for anyone.

It’s especially important for children with scoliosis to get exercise unless a specialist recommends otherwise, because it can build muscle strength and reduce pain. It can also help to maintain a moderate weight, so additional stress isn’t placed on their back.

The Schroth method is one of the most widely used scoliosis exercise plans. It combines sensorimotor, postural, and breathing exercises. But, more detailed research is needed to better understand the potential benefits and outcomes of these exercises.

As mentioned earlier, bracing is the only therapy that reduces scoliosis progression. It can also help prevent the need for surgery.

If you’re interested in at home exercises that may be beneficial for scoliosis, you can read more here.

Although millions of Americans have scoliosis, not all experience it to the same degree. Mild scoliosis means that you have a spinal curvature approximately 10–20 degrees more than what’s expected. Most individuals with mild scoliosis will be able to live a normal life with minimal symptoms and pain.

It’s important to continue monitoring for individuals with mild scoliosis through physical exams and X-rays to ensure that the curve doesn’t progress. If you have scoliosis and notice an increase in your symptoms, it’s important to talk with a doctor.