Living with Scoliosis can be a struggle, especially since you might be worried about the kind of jobs that you can take up. For example, can you join the military with Scoliosis, given the abnormal curvature of your spine? Let’s help you clarify your doubts in this article
Scoliosis is a disorder in the Spinal cord. It can occur to people of any age. But unfortunately, Scoliosis is a disease that hits most frequently among people who have yet to achieve puberty.
If you are one of the 2-3% of people in the US who are impacted by scoliosis, you might be worried about your career prospects. You might think that it would become difficult to get any job that may involve physical strain. For example, can you join the Military with Scoliosis?
Do not be disheartened, the answer is not a flat-out no. You can join the Military if you have mild Scoliosis (if Cobb’s angle is less than 20 degrees), and you can do almost all the work like everyone else.
However, Military examiners will restrict those candidates who cannot wear the Military Uniform or equipment properly on their own. They also reject candidates if the curvature of the spinal cord prevents them from actively participating in sports and other physical activities.
In fact, every Military branch treats Scoliosis differently. So it’s best to consult the policy of the particular branch of the Military before enlisting.
This article discusses more the joining of the Military with Scoliosis. Continue reading the article for more information.
What Is Scoliosis?
For most people, the spinal cord or backbone is straight. A person with Scoliosis has a spinal cord that is curved to some degree.
Scoliosis can happen to people of any age, but it usually strikes young. In 90 percent of patients diagnosed with Scoliosis, there is no specific cause which doctors can attribute. This is known as idiopathic Scoliosis. It is often diagnosable only through an X-ray.
Degrees Of Scoliosis
Scoliosis can be mild, moderate, and severe.
A child with mild Scoliosis may have severe Scoliosis if you don’t do the treatment at the right time. However, there is no permanent cure for Scoliosis.
Wearing braces may prevent the curvature from increasing. Spinal surgery is also another option. However, spinal surgery is major surgery, and you should always take a second opinion before doing it. The surgery has side effects like heavy blood loss, infection, possible diseases, and even death in very few cases.
A person with Scoliosis faces difficulty in bending or lifting weights. They cannot sit and stand continuously for long. They have uneven shoulders, hipline, and waistline. Some may find trouble walking and have to depend on mobile devices for walking.
Can You Join The Military With Scoliosis?
Joining the military is not like joining any other job in the world. The application process is quite rigorous. You have to fill out dozens of forms and applications, and they check your entire medical history.
When an applicant goes to the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), he goes through medical tests and ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery).
The doctor assesses the applicant thoroughly and checks whether he has any medical issues restricting him from joining the service. The physical tests may include blood tests, urine tests, and tests for narcotics and other drugs.
If a candidate has a problem that pops up in one of the tests, it is still possible that they may get a waiver and join the military. But they need to make sure that the recruiter should know about your problem before you go to the MEPS.
The recruiter decides whether to waive your condition, but if they disagree, you will be permanently disqualified from the Military. You need to remember that if you have not informed the recruiter about the medical condition and it is discovered later, you can be dishonorably discharged from the MIlitary.
Problems with the spinal cord are a serious matter for the Military. However, the US Armed forces accept applicants who have mild Scoliosis (the curvature of the spinal cord is within the acceptable range).
A person who has moderate to severe Scoliosis is rejected by the Military. Most of the Military branches only accept applicants who can do all the essential duties independently despite suffering from Scoliosis.
Scoliosis Disqualifications In Military
The Military considers the curvature of the Spinal cord disqualifying when you have one of the following symptoms.
- When an applicant has lumbar Scoliosis (curvature in the lower spine) and when the Cobb’s angle is more than 20 degrees, the Armed forces of the United States will disqualify them. Lumbar Scoliosis results in wear and tear of the disc and joints in the spinal cord.
- When an applicant has Thoracic Scoliosis (curvature of the spine in the mid-back or thoracic region), and the curvature is more than 30 degrees, the armed forces will disqualify them.
- When the Kyphosis (thinning bone disorder) and Lordosis (inward curvature of lumbar spine i) is more than 55 degree, you can get disqualified
- When Scoliosis prevents an individual from wearing a uniform or Military Equipment independently.
- When Scoliosis prevents an individual from participating actively in Sports in civilian life.
- When Scoliosis prevents you from having active Civilian life.
- When the condition of Scoliosis in an applicant is symptomatic
You might like to read: Can You Get Disability For Scoliosis
Branches Of US Military
The United States Military has five main branches. Each branch has a different policy on Scoliosis. Let’s discuss them one by one.
#1. Army Scoliosis Policy
The Armed forces of the United States receive more than 150,000 applicants every year. The Military screens all the applicants for physical and mental fitness and personal background.
The applicant has to pass all the tests to join the Army in the United States. You should disclose the complete Medical history to the recruiter. In my opinion, it’s best to be transparent about any issue; otherwise, you may quickly face problems.
The Army recruits individuals with mild Scoliosis if it is not preventing them from doing any essential activities carried out by the Armed forces. However, it’s hard to say until you reach the recruiter and he examines your case.
#2. Navy Scoliosis Policy
The Navy of the United States clearly outlines the conditions of Scoliosis. It assesses Scoliosis disorder on a case-by-case basis and mainly looks into the degree of curvature of the spinal cord to recruit an applicant.
The Navy clearly explains the conditions of disqualification. They are as follows.
- Lumbar Scoliosis more than 20 degree
- Thoracic Scoliosis more than 30 degree
- Kyphosis and Lordosis is more than 55 degree.
#3. Air Force Scoliosis Policy
To join the Airforce of the United States, you have to submit all the medical papers of Scoliosis. The papers are investigated by the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), and they get to decide.
It’s best to contact the local Air force recruiter about what medical papers you need to submit while pre-screening the applicant.
#4. Coast Guard Scoliosis Policy
The Coastguard Scoliosis policy has the same guidelines as that of the Navy. Both give importance to the curvature of the spinal cord. When the curvature exceeds the set value, the applicant is disqualified from joining the Navy and Coast Guard.
You can contact a representative of the US Coast Guard if you have any additional questions related to Scoliosis.
#5. Marine Corps Scoliosis Policy
The Marine Corps does not have specific guidelines related to Scoliosis. It’s best to talk to them directly.
Frequently Asked Questions
#1. What are the degrees of Scoliosis?
There are mainly three degrees of Scoliosis
- Mild curve (less than 20 degrees)
- Moderate curve(between 25 to 40 degrees)
- Severe curve(more than 50 degrees)
#2. Can you get a waiver for Scoliosis in the Military?
Recruiters usually grant waivers in the Military so that the soldiers with minimal disease can serve the Nation.
#3. Does MEPS check for Scoliosis?
Yes, MEPS has set a few conditions for disqualifying an applicant with Scoliosis. However, the final decision is taken by the recruiter after having your Medical evaluation.
#4. Can you fix Scoliosis?
You cannot fix Scoliosis permanently. However, you can stop the curvature from increasing further by bracing. People with extreme Scoliosis may need surgery permanently straightening the spinal cord.
#5. Is 5-degree Scoliosis bad?
Scoliosis less than 10 degrees is called spinal asymmetry. It does not require any treatment.
You might like to read: Can You Get Disability For Scoliosis
Most people think that their spinal cord consists of just one bone. But your backbone or spinal cord consists of many bones, which are vertebrae—the bones connected by cartilage that is responsible for letting your body twist and bend in so many angles.
But when a person has Scoliosis, then instead of a straight spinal cord, it is curved to some angle. Nowadays, Scoliosis is quite common in young adults in the United States. If the degree of curvature is high, the person may feel difficulty in doing all their daily routine work.
Military jobs are one of the prestigious jobs in the United States. But to enlist in the Military, the applicant has to pass the MEPS medical exam.
The Scoliosis policy of the military differs from one branch to another. But most of the branches do not accept applicants with severe Scoliosis.
So, in short, your curvature should be as minimal as possible, and you should be able to do all the essential work and duties to serve in the Military.
I hope this article was informative and please don’t forget to share any suggestions for this article. I would love to read your suggestions or experience in joining the Military after having Scoliosis in the comment section.