Observation, bracing, and surgery are possible treatments for scoliosis. The specific treatment the doctor recommends will depend on several factors, including the person's age and the degree of the spinal curve. Exercise, which will certainly improve a person's overall health, will not stop the progression of scoliosis.
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 treatment for scoliosis, the doctor may send the child to an orthopedic spine specialist.
Doctors will suggest the best scoliosis treatment for a person based on:
- The person's age
- How much more he or she is likely to grow
- The degree and pattern of the curve
- The type of scoliosis.
Doctors may recommend different options, such as:
Doctors will use observation to treat scoliosis when the patient 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 for mild scoliosis because curves under 20 degrees will sometimes improve on their own. Approximately 1 in 5 cases will not improve, and only 3 in 1,000 will worsen enough to need scoliosis treatment.
Doctors may advise bracing in order to stop a curve from getting worse. Bracing may be used when the person:
- 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, whether the curve is getting worse, and the size of the curve.