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Osteoarthritis Health Center

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What Is the Treatment for Scoliosis?

The majority of adolescents with significant scoliosis with no known cause are observed at regular intervals (usually every four months to six months), including a physical exam and a low-radiation X-ray.

Treatments for scoliosis include:

  • Braces. Bracing is the usual treatment choice for adolescents who have a spinal curve between 25 degrees to 40 degrees -- particularly if their bones are still maturing and if they have at least 2 years of growth remaining.

The purpose of bracing is to halt progression of the curve. It may provide a temporary correction, but usually the curve will assume its original magnitude when bracing is eliminated.

  • Surgery. Those who have curves beyond 40 degrees to 50 degrees are often considered for scoliosis surgery. The goal is to make sure the curve does not get worse, but surgery does not perfectly straighten the spine. During the procedure, metallic implants are utilized to correct some of the curvature and hold it in the correct position until a bone graft, placed at the time of surgery, consolidates and creates a rigid fusion in the area of the curve. Scoliosis surgery usually involves joining the vertebrae together permanently-- called spinal fusion.

In young children, another technique that does not involve fusion may be used because fusion stops growth of the fused part of the spine. In this case, a brace must always be worn after surgery.

What Is the Treatment for Scoliosis? continued...

Many studies have shown that electrical stimulation, exercise programs, and manipulation are of no benefit in preventing the progression of scoliosis. However, people with scoliosis should stay active and fit.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on May 23, 2014
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