Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"What does a 15 degree curvature mean?"


After a checkup, my doctor told me that she noticed a 15 degree curvature in the lumber area of my spine. She did not seem to act like it was anything important as she didn't schedule another checkup, so I was just wondering what it meant. The only thing she asked me about it is if any one told me I had a curve in a my back.


It sounds like you may have mild scoliosis of the lumbar spine and I recommend that you be followed by your primary care doctor. A curvature of the spine of any type is referred to as scoliosis most the time. Your doctor probably did not use this term with you only because the curvature of your spine is so slight that he or she might not have wanted to disturb you with any terms that might have been scary.

See a doctor who can help

Find a Chiropractors near you

The other reason that your doctor was not that concerned is that the small amount of scoliosis is unlikely to cause a significant problem with your back down the road. However, that does not mean that you shouldn't be followed by a physician that knows you have this issue. If the degrees of curvature were to enlarge or get worse, then you would need to be followed by someone that knows how to correct the problem surgically if the need wherever to be there. While I do not know exactly what degree in the lumbar spinal warrants surgery, in the thoracic spine just above the lumbar spine a 50° curvature or more warrants a surgical fusion of the vertebrate. You are nowhere near this at this point, but your physician should just be aware of it so it could be monitored. At this point, you can be followed by her primary care doctor for this issue. If your situation worsens, or you develop significant low back pain, then I would suggest that you schedule an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.