Scoliosis is a condition that affects the spine’s curvature, causing it to bend sideways. It can cause pain, discomfort, and in severe cases, can even affect the ability to walk. Many people with scoliosis wonder if they can join the military. In this article, we’ll explore this question in depth.
Before we discuss if someone with scoliosis can join the military, it’s important to understand what scoliosis is. Scoliosis is a medical condition in which the spine curves sideways. It can affect people of all ages, but it’s most commonly diagnosed in children during their growth spurt.
There are several types of scoliosis, and they’re classified based on their cause. The most common type is idiopathic scoliosis, which means the cause is unknown. Other types of scoliosis include congenital scoliosis, which is present at birth, and neuromuscular scoliosis, which is caused by an underlying neuromuscular condition.
Military Requirements for Joining
To join the military, individuals must meet certain requirements. These requirements include being a certain age, having a certain level of education, and meeting physical and medical standards.
The physical and medical standards are in place to ensure that individuals are healthy enough to perform their duties and to minimize the risk of injury. The standards are set by the Department of Defense and are the same for all branches of the military.
Scoliosis Military Disqualification
Spinal conditions are taken seriously in the military, and many conditions are considered disqualifying. Despite this, each spinal and hip condition is evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the military. During the MEPS evaluation, three types of spinal curvatures are assessed, which include lordotic, kyphotic, and scoliotic.
The US Armed Forces considers the following spinal conditions to be potentially disqualifying:
- Lumbar Scoliosis
- Thoracic Scoliosis
The curvature or deviation of the spine from normal alignment or function is deemed disqualifying when it is symptomatic or prevents the individual from engaging in physically demanding jobs or sports activities. Additionally, if the condition hinders the person from wearing a military uniform or equipment appropriately, it is also considered disqualifying.
The Cobb Method is utilized to measure the degree of curvature or deviation of the spine, with a lumbar scoliosis greater than 20 degrees, thoracic scoliosis greater than 30 degrees, or kyphosis and lordosis greater than 55 degrees being disqualifying.
In essence, spinal conditions can hinder an individual’s ability to perform their duties as a service member, making it critical for the military to assess each case thoroughly.
Can You Join the Military with Scoliosis?
The answer to whether or not someone with scoliosis can join the military is not a simple one. It depends on the severity of the scoliosis and whether or not it affects the individual’s ability to perform their duties.
Generally, the military has specific medical standards that applicants must meet to qualify for service.
In the army, the medical standards state that individuals with scoliosis are not eligible for service if they have curvature of the spine greater than 40 degrees. However, individuals with curvature between 25 and 40 degrees may still be eligible, depending on their ability to perform essential job functions.
Navy and Marine Corps:
In the Navy and Marine Corps, individuals with scoliosis are typically eligible for service if they meet the following criteria:
- The curvature of the spine should not exceed 30 degrees.
- The individual should be asymptomatic, with no evidence of progression of the curvature.
- The individual should not have had spinal fusion surgery.
- The individual should not require the use of a brace or other orthopedic appliance.
In the Air Force, individuals with scoliosis may be eligible for service if they meet the following criteria:
- The curvature of the spine should not exceed 25 degrees.
- The individual should not have any symptoms associated with scoliosis.
- The individual should have no history of spinal surgery or the use of a brace or other orthopedic appliance.
Individuals with scoliosis who wish to join the military must undergo a medical evaluation to determine if they meet the physical and medical standards. The medical evaluation will include a physical exam, medical history review, and imaging tests to assess the severity of the scoliosis.
In general, individuals with mild scoliosis may be eligible to join the military. However, those with moderate to severe scoliosis may be disqualified. The decision ultimately rests with the military’s medical professionals.
According to the Coast Guard’s medical standards, applicants with scoliosis may be eligible for service if the curvature is mild, meaning less than 20 degrees, and does not cause any significant pain or limitation of movement. However, applicants with more severe scoliosis or those who have undergone spinal surgery or fusion may not be eligible for Coast Guard service.
In some cases, applicants with scoliosis may be granted a medical waiver to join the Coast Guard, but this decision is made on a case-by-case basis. The waiver process may involve additional medical evaluations and examinations to determine whether the applicant can perform the duties required of a Coast Guard member.
Can You Join the Military With Mild Scoliosis
Mild scoliosis is a common condition where the spine curves slightly to one side, usually less than 20 degrees. While it may not cause any significant problems for many people, it could potentially limit your ability to join the military. The military has strict medical standards that all applicants must meet to ensure that they are fit for service.
The decision to allow an applicant with mild scoliosis to join the military ultimately depends on the severity of the condition and whether it could affect the individual’s ability to perform military duties. In most cases, applicants with mild scoliosis may be granted to join the military. However, each branch of the military has its own guidelines for granting waivers, and the decision is made on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, it is best to consult with a military recruiter or medical professional to determine your eligibility for military service if you have mild scoliosis.
Military Jobs That May Be Off Limits
Even if an individual with scoliosis is able to join the military, certain jobs may be off-limits. Jobs that require a high level of physical activity or that put a lot of strain on the back may not be suitable for someone with scoliosis.
For example, jobs in the infantry, artillery, or special operations may be too physically demanding for someone with scoliosis. Jobs that require a lot of heavy lifting or prolonged standing may also be off-limits.
Getting a Waiver
If an individual with scoliosis is disqualified from joining the military due to their condition, they may be able to obtain a waiver. A waiver is a document that allows an individual to join the military even if they don’t meet all of the requirements.
Waivers are typically granted on a case-by-case basis and are only given if the military determines that the individual’s scoliosis does not pose a risk to themselves or others. Waivers are not guaranteed and are often difficult to obtain.
Conclusion: Can You Join the Military if You Have Scoliosis
Whether or not someone with scoliosis can join the military depends on the severity of the condition and whether or not it affects the individual’s ability to perform their duties. While mild scoliosis may not be disqualifying, moderate to severe scoliosis may be.
Additionally, certain jobs may be off-limits even if an individual is able to join the military. If you have scoliosis and are interested in joining the military, it’s best to speak with a military recruiter or medical professional to determine your eligibility. They can help you understand the requirements and guide you through the process.