Terminology – Scoliosis Condition Specific

(click illustrations to see their source)

  • Angle of Trunk Rotation (ATR): The most commonly discussed aspect of scoliosis is the side to side curve (see Cobb Angle) but scoliosis also comes with a trunk rotation.  This is actually what screeners are looking for when they do the “bendover” test.  The vertebrae twist as they curve.  The effect of this is shown in the following illustration.

trunk rotation

  • Apical:  Having to do with the apex of the curve.
  • Cobb Angle: standard measure of scoliotic curve.  Keep in mind, scoliosis comes with side to side curve as well as rotation.  Cobb angle measures the curve without regard to rotation.  For example, the cobb of the thorocolumbar curve in the below illustration is 89 degrees.

Cobb Angle Illustration

  • Costovertebral Angle: Though not scoliotic in the following illustration, this angle can be significantly impacted by scoliosis as the relationship between spine and ribs is impacted.


  • Dextroscoliosis: curve to the right (most common thoracic curve)
  • Kyphosis: Outward curvature of the spine. This can be normal, as in the normal slight outward curvature of the spine of the upper back or can be abnormal as in cervical kyphosis (straight neck, the absence of normal lordosis).  Other abnormalities are designated with Hyper or Hypo as in too much or too little kyphosis, respectively.  For example, flat upper back, lacking normal kyphosis, is termed hypokyphosis and is common with scoliosis and can be exacerbated by bracing.
    • Normal Lordosis and Kyphosis of the spine are illustrated below.



  • Levoscoliosis: curve to the left (less common Thoracic curve, more common in lumbar portion of “S” curves)
  • Lordosis: Inward curvature of the spine (opposite of Kyphosis).  The normal spine has a lordotic curve in the lumbar area (see kyphosis for illustration)
  • Proprioception: This is our sense of where are bodies are, relatively, in space.  For example, you can close my eyes and pay attention to whether your shoulders are squared, slouching, in alignment with your hips, etc.  Continuous, habitual, awareness of ones own posture, and habitually holding it in the desired position, is part of the self-bracing aspect of Schroth (as I understand it to this point).
  • Thoracolumbar: A combination of thoracic and lumbar vertebrae (e.g. scoliotic curves may be just thoracic, just lumbar, or may span the two, becoming thorocolumbar.)

Note:  I intend to update this post as more is learned and will also have other Terminology posts for other sub topics useful to know while researching and treating scoliosis such as Related General Anatomy, Growth Potential, and Positional/Directional terminology.

Disclaimer:  I am not, in any way, medically trained and you should seek professional medical advice before making any decisions based on information found here.

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One Response to Terminology – Scoliosis Condition Specific

  1. Pingback: Scoliosis Screening and Diagnosis – A Parent’s Responsibility | lifehascurves

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