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How Severe Can Scoliosis Get?

Scoliosis is a condition unique to each person. Just like a patient’s fingerprints, the same elements may be present in two different people, but they will never be exactly the same. This is due to the multiple factors that impact scoliosis–curve type, location, severity, and patient age. A patient’s scoliosis can be placed on a scale ranging from mild, to moderate, to severe by using the Cobb angle (determined from X-rays), to quantify the degree of unnatural curvature of the spine.

To define scoliotic deformity, a patient needs both a sideways (lateral) curve in the spine that measures greater than 10 degrees, AND a spinal rotation associated with that curve. To understand how bad scoliosis can get, it may be beneficial to look at the time when scoliosis is most likely to get worse, a process known as progression.


Due to the progressive nature of scoliosis, the condition will worsen over time. While there is not

a predictive method to calculate or estimate the speed at which this will occur, there are some triggers, such as growth, that are known to accelerate the worsening of scoliosis.

Unfortunately, curves can progress to very extreme states. MaxLiving's own Dr. Tony Nalda has seen curves as large as 155 degree in a untreated patient. The most common time for curves to progress is during adolescence, especially the ages of 10-16. These ages differ for males and females, with females progressing the most from 10-14, and males progressing more from 12-16. This varies from child to child, with most progression taking place during pubescent growth spurts when the spine tends to be growing and developing.

Stages That Affect Progression