Scoliosis treatment is a subject that has been the cause of great debate for many years; unfortunately, there is not a definitive answer for all cases. The three basic scoliosis treatment options are as follows:
Patients are observed when the curvature of the spine is minimal (the cutoff is debatable, but depending on the age of the patient, the stage of skeletal development, and symptoms, it is somewhere between 20 and 30 degrees of curvature). Over this cutoff, more aggressive scoliosis treatment is usually pursued. When observed, patients are seen by a spine specialist about every six months until skeletal maturity is reached.
Braces will help control any worsening of a spine curvature, but do little to correct an existing deformity. Bracing is most effective for scoliosis treatment when used in children that are rapidly growing and have worsening scoliosis curves.
Surgery is often the best options for more severe curves. Depending on the site of the curve and the degree of curvature, the surgeon will fuse vertebrae in a more normal anatomic position.
Are there other scoliosis treatment options?
Studies are investigating the effectiveness of many scoliosis treatments, including electrical stimulation, chiropractic manipulation, physical therapy, and other forms of treatment. None of these studies has been shown to alter the progression of scoliosis, but the jury is still out. Some patients find relief from symptoms when these scoliosis treatments are used.
Some parents are often worried about children with scoliosis exercising. It should be emphasized to these parents that it is important that all children exercise regularly. Participation in exercise or sports will not worsen the curve in the spine; only if there is back pain associated with the scoliosis should exercise be minimized. In fact, adequate back muscle strength is an important component of effective scoliosis treatment.