Can You Join the Military With Scoliosis? (2022)

Can you join the military with scoliosis? When a recruit reports to MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station), he or she will get a comprehensive medical examination and evaluation, as well as take the ASVAB. Prior to this meeting with military physicians, whose only responsibility is to determine whether recruits have any medical conditions that would preclude them from serving in the military, the recruiter would pre-approve prospects after they complete medical questionnaires. Recruits frequently require exemptions as a result of medical treatments, surgeries, injuries, diseases, or congenital disabilities.

can you join the military with scoliosis

What is scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a spine curvature that is associated with cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy.

However, not every incidence of scoliosis is severe since many people are still able to live a normal life and participate in activities such as military service.

Around 3% of teenagers are affected, and some individuals are at risk of developing more severe spine deformities as the body grows.

Along with limiting or impairing movement in severe situations, scoliosis may also impair the lungs' healthy function.

Scoliosis in mild forms may not require treatment, however, severe examples may require surgery or other remedial procedures.

The disorder's signs and symptoms include the following:

  • Unbalanced shoulders.
  • Unbalanced waist.
  • One shoulder blade is larger than the other.
  • One hip is significantly higher than the other.
  • The majority of people seek medical attention when their symptoms begin as children.

Mild cases of scoliosis, on the other hand, might grow gradually and painlessly.

It is critical to get medical treatment since more severe forms of scoliosis can cause damage to the heart and lungs or cause back pain.

While many of them will prevent a candidate from joining the military, depending on the severity of the offense, recruits may be granted waivers on an individual basis. The following is a list of spinal and hip deformities, injuries, and family histories that may preclude an individual from serving in the military:

Spinal Disqualifying Medical Conditions

The following are the reasons for rejection of appointment, enlisting, and induction (in the absence of an approved waiver): a verifiable history of:

Ankylosing spondylitis or other inflammatory spondylopathies are disqualified if present or have been in the past.

Ankylosing Spondylitis, or AS, is a type of arthritis that mainly affects the spine, but it can affect other joints as well. In more severe cases, inflammation can result in the fusion of the vertebrae, a condition known as ankylosis. This is a term that refers to the process of bone development in the spine that results in immobility between the joints - also called spinal fusing. Inflammatory Spondylopathies are additional vertebral or spinal column illnesses.

Pain and Weakness in the Spine and Hips (Spinal or Hip Defects)

Any condition, current or past, including but not limited to the spine or sacroiliac joints, with or without objective indications that:

Disqualifying conditions include those that prevent an individual from successfully pursuing a physically active vocation in civilian life or are associated with local or referred discomfort to the extremities, muscular spasm, postural abnormalities, or limitation of motion.

  • External support or braces are considered disqualifying.
  • Requires restriction of physical activity or regular treatment
  • A history of congenital fusion of more than two vertebral bodies disqualifies the patient.
  • Any spinal vertebral fusion surgery is disqualifying.

Spinal Curvatures

The spine has three distinct curves: lordotic, kyphotic (the thoracic region's outward curve), and scoliotic (sideways curving). A small amount of kyphotic and lordotic curvature is considered normal.

Lumbar Scoliosis is a side-to-side curve in the lumbar portion of the spine (L1 through L5). Degenerative scoliosis occurs as a result of wear and tear on the spine's discs and joints. It is the most prevalent form of scoliosis in adults and typically affects the lumbar (lower) spine.

Thoracic scoliosis — Though less common than lumbar scoliosis, thoracic scoliosis is a spine curvature in the mid-back or thoracic region (rib care area).

If the spine's current departure or curvature from its normal alignment, structure, or function is disqualifying (spinal and hip defects):

can you join the military with scoliosis

  • Scoliosis precludes an individual from pursuing a physically active career or participating in sports in civilian life.
  • It obstructs the donning of a uniform or military equipment properly.
  • It is indicative.
  • A lumbar scoliosis of more than 20 degrees, thoracic scoliosis of more than 30 degrees, or kyphosis and lordosis of more than 55 degrees, as determined by the Cobb technique, disqualifies an individual from military service.

Kyphosis is a malformation of the upper back vertebrae. This bone weakening disorder can be brought on by a variety of factors, but it can end in crushed vertebrae (compression fractures).

Lordosis is a condition in which the lumbar spine curves inward more than normal (just above the buttocks).

Fractures, herniations, or dislocations of the spine

Current or prior vertebral fractures or dislocations disqualify. Compression fractures involving less than 25% of a single vertebra do not disqualify an applicant if the injury happened more than one year prior to the examination and the applicant is symptomatic. If the applicant is asymptomatic, a history of transverse or spinous process fractures is not disqualifying.

A history of juvenile epiphysitis with any degree of the residual alteration as determined by x-ray or kyphosis precludes eligibility.

Current herniated nucleus pulposus (disks) or a history of such surgery disqualifies.

The most common cause of a herniated "disk" is age-related degeneration, which occurs as the spine is subjected to the strain and stress of daily life. Certain factors, however, may contribute to or exacerbate a herniated disk, including the following:

can you join the military with scoliosis

  • Excessive weight or obesity, inactivity, sudden lifting, or compression injuries, such as those sustained in a motor vehicle accident, fall, or high-impact sport, as well as smoking, excessive alcohol use, and heredity.

Spina Bifida

Spina bifida, whether present or past, is disqualified if it is symptomatic, involves more than one vertebra level, or is associated with dimpling of the overlying skin. Spina bifida repair surgery is disqualified.

Spina bifida is a congenital condition caused by improper development of the spine and spinal cord.

Spondylolysis (congenital or acquired) and spondylolisthesis (congenital or acquired) are considered disqualifying conditions.

Scoliosis Policy for the Army

Each year, the United States Armed Forces receive an average of 150,000 potential applications.

Each applicant is tested for a variety of factors, including physical fitness, mental aptitude, and personal history (like a criminal record).

The Army's response to scoliosis is broad and ambiguous.

"You must report all drugs and medical problems to your recruiter and have them assessed by the Chief Medical Officer in order for your qualifications to be determined."

There is a common thread running through all military branches: the Department of Defense will treat each instance of scoliosis on an individual basis.

Thus, while the Army does not take a position on the issue directly, it will disqualify you if the military branch deems the disorder inhibits you from doing your duties.

The Army will request a copy of your entire medical records.

It is preferable to remain candid about the situation in order to avoid disappointment later on.

The Army approves many minor cases of scoliosis if the disease does not impair your ability to execute critical military activities.

However, it is difficult to know for certain until you speak with an Army recruiter about your individual situation.

Scoliosis Policy for the Navy

The United States Navy is one of the best branches when it comes to explaining how it deals with scoliosis.

We were directed to the AVMED P-117, Medical Department Manual, after consulting with a Navy employee (MANMED).

The manual outlines the procedures for "doing, recording, and evaluating the findings of physical examinations undertaken for a range of screening and qualification purposes."

It says that these disorders are disqualifying in Chapter 15-48, Spine and Sacroiliac Joints:

"When the Cobb Method is used, there is lumbar scoliosis greater than 20 degrees, thoracic scoliosis greater than 30 degrees, or kyphosis and lordosis greater than 55 degrees."

Additionally, the rule states that the condition must "meet general duty criteria" unless it is symptomatic or progressing.

As a result, the Navy evaluates scoliosis problems on an individual basis and bases qualification on the degree of your curvature.

Scoliosis Policy for the Military

It is preferable to be candid and open with your recruiter regarding pre-existing health concerns. Provide medical records and respond to any inquiries they may have about your illness to help increase your chances of being enrolled. Naval Base Guam Air Force Policy on Scoliosis

According to the United States Air Force, scoliosis is "possibly medically disqualifying."

However, the final conclusion is at the doctor supervising your Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) medical evaluation's discretion.

Additionally, a local Air Force recruiter can have your medical records reviewed for scoliosis by a doctor at MEPS for a preliminary ruling to provide you with additional information.

While new recruits may find the MEPS process intrusive, bear in mind that the military routinely asks detailed questions about your medical history during the screening process.

Whatever the ailment, the Air Force demands medical documentation to enable the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) to make an informed decision.

Contact an Air Force recruiter in your area to determine what papers you must submit and whether you should schedule a prescreening.

Scoliosis Policy for the Marine Corps

When we contacted the Marine Corps for additional information on their specific scoliosis policy, they were unhelpful.

The Marine agent stated that it is preferable to speak with a recruiter in your region for additional information.

Due to the fact that neither of us personally suffers from the disease, the recruiter was unwilling to discuss particular eligibility requirements.

As a result, if you are interested in enlisting in the Marines but have scoliosis, you should contact a recruiter independently.

Expect the Marines to seek all relevant medical records, follow up with personal questions, and maybe do a prescreening before providing you with a definitive 'yes' or 'no'.

Scoliosis Policy for the Coast Guard

When it comes to scoliosis, the United States Coast Guard follows comparable criteria to the Navy.

The military branch considers the degree of curvature while determining eligibility.

As a result, you qualify as long as the arch does not exceed 30 degrees.

According to the official Coast Guard manual on scoliosis:

"There is greater than 30 degrees of lumbar or thoracic scoliosis, or greater than 50 degrees of kyphosis and lordosis as evaluated by the Cobb Method."

Please feel free to contact a Coast Guard representative if you have any additional questions on the subject.

Once again, anticipate requests for medical data and inquiries about the condition from the military branch.

Can you join the Army or military with minor scoliosis?

Can someone with mild scoliosis join the Army? The Army of the United States DQ for applicants seeking their first flight: Scoliosis of any degree, lumbar or thoracic scoliosis. DQ for pilots: Scoliosis greater than 20 degrees, but routinely exempted to 25 degrees if asymptomatic; kyphosis or lordosis greater than 55 degrees. Generally, waivers are not granted when there is discomfort, impairment of function, or when the condition is progressing.

What is the range degree that disqualifies me?

With scoliosis, you can serve in the military. The range degree is used to make the determination. If lumbar scoliosis exceeds 20 degrees, thoracic scoliosis greater than 30 degrees, or kyphosis and lordosis exceed 55 degrees when assessed using the Cobb technique, you are ineligible (this would be disqualifying for military service).

Can a medical condition disqualify you from the military?

Occasionally, medical experts' waivers are an option for specific medical issues, particularly those involving vision and weight. Others, such as depression and Crohn's disease, are more likely to disqualify you from duty, particularly if they have previously interfered with your education or career.

Can a person with Asperger's be in the military?

According to the United States Air Force Medical Standards Directory, Autism Spectrum Disorder does not preclude a person from continuing military service unless it is now interfering with military duty or training or has a history of interfering.

Can you join the military if you had scoliosis surgery?

The military has clear policies on medical procedures that affect the spine and hip. You may be eligible for full or partial disability compensation if you got scoliosis while serving in the military. Additionally, you may be eligible for disability benefits if you previously had scoliosis and it worsened during your military service.

can you join the military with scoliosis

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo,, SparkHire,,, FairyGodBoss,, St. Edwards University, NC State University,, Thrive Global,, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

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