Scoliosis Treatment & Surgery

Understanding scoliosis and how we treat it

Scoliosis is an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine, meaning that the spine curves from side to side. Measured in degrees, some curves can get bigger over time. Many young adults are diagnosed between the ages of 10 and 15. The vast majority of scoliosis is idiopathic—which means no one really knows what causes it. While both teens and adults can be diagnosed with it, treatment options work best while the skeletal bones are still maturing (not fully grown).

Three treatment options for young adults with scoliosis:

1. Observation: While some patients and their parents may not think of observation as a treatment, it absolutely is. By doing exams every three to six months, we can track the curve's progression and make intelligent choices about whether we need to pursue other kinds of treatment. In most cases, further intervention is not required.

2. Bracing: The purpose of bracing is to slow down the growth of the curve. In general, the more the teen wears the brace, the more it will help. However, there are other factors that can make bracing a tough decision. That's why Dr. Tindel takes a thoughtful, compassionate team approach to finding a bracing strategy that's going to work for everybody.

3. Surgery: While there are always exceptions, Dr. Tindel strongly supports the philosophy that there is no reason to rush into surgery to treat scoliosis. It's really important to note here that only a small percentage of scoliosis patients have a curve that progresses to the point of needing surgery.

Mythbuster: The truth about exercise and scoliosis
Although it's not an official treatment option, physical exercise is really important for patients dealing with scoliosis.
It builds muscle strength and flexibility—all good things for our bodies. So, go outside and play!
Recommended Reading

This is an excellent book. The National Scoliosis Foundation also endorses it, and I think it's a readable, thorough, accurate assessment of the disease and its treatments."