The standards adopted by all branches of the U.S. military include a baseline physical examination. Sufficiently severe scoliosis, or spinal curvature, can disqualify an applicant from service, according to

Types of Curvature

The military checks for unusual side-to-side spinal curves of lumbar scoliosis and thoracic scoliosis. Lumbar scoliosis afflicts the lower curve of the spine, and thoracic scoliosis afflicts the upper curve. Doctors also measure lordosis, which Spine Universe defines as extreme inward curvature, and kyphosis, an extreme outward curvature.


The degree of scoliosis, as measured by a standard called the Cobb Method, affects recruitment chances. Rejection may result from more than 20 degree curvature in lumbar scoliosis or 30 degree curvature in thoracic scoliosis. Lordosis and kyphosis trigger alarms when curvatures reach 55 percent.

Considerations points out that in many cases a failure point on a medical exam does not mean automatic rejection. People entering the military who have a known pre-existing medical condition should let the recruiting officer know so the service can determine whether the condition calls for disqualification.