Doctors will suggest the best treatment for scoliosis based on factors such as the child's age, how much he or she is likely to grow, and the type of scoliosis the child has. Common treatment options include observation, bracing, and surgery. Alternative treatments and exercise have not been shown prevent the progression of scoliosis, but improve overall well-being.
Treating Scoliosis: An Overview
Many children who are sent to the doctor by a school scoliosis screening program have mild spinal curves that do not need treatment. However, when a child does need scoliosis treatment, the doctor may send the child to an orthopedic spine specialist.
Doctors will suggest the best treatment for scoliosis based on:
- The child's age
- How much more he or she is likely to grow
- The type of scoliosis
- The degree and pattern of the curve.
Doctors may recommend different treatment options for scoliosis, such as:
Observation as Part of Scoliosis Treatment
Doctors will use observation when the child is still growing (is skeletally immature) and has an idiopathic curve of less than 25 degrees. Observation consists of re-examinations every four to six months.
Observation is recommended to treat mild scoliosis because curves under 20 degrees will sometimes improve on their own. Approximately 1 in 5 cases of observation will not improve on its own, and only 3 in 1,000 will worsen enough to need treatment.
How Bracing Helps Treat ScoliosisDoctors may advise bracing in order to stop a curve from getting worse. Bracing may be used when the child:
- Is still growing and has a curve of more than 25 to 30 degrees
- Is still growing and has a curve between 20 and 29 degrees that is getting worse
- Has at least two years of growth remaining and has a curve that is between 20 and 29 degrees.
When a child is near the end of growth, the use of bracing will depend on how the curve affects the child's appearance, the size of the curve, and whether the curve is getting worse.