The treatment plan for your scoliosis depends on its severity and may slightly vary by doctor. In general, however, treatment is prescribed as:
While yoga, physical therapy, or chiropractic medicine have not been scientifically proven to prevent curve progression, they can help strengthen your core and manage pain.
Your doctor will recommend a brace based on the location and degree of your curve(s), such as:
To stop progression of your curve(s) and, ultimately, avoid a spinal fusion surgery. A 2013 study tested the effectiveness of adolescent brace wear. About 3/4 of the patients who wore a brace had curves that stayed at less than 50º when they were full grown. More than half (58%) of those who did not wear a brace had curves that progressed to 50º or more (Weinstien SL et al., N Engl J Med 2013; 369: 1512).
Yes! A 2013 research study used temperature sensors in the braces to track brace wear. Patients who wore the brace for less than 6 hours a day had roughly the same success rate as those patients who did not wear the brace at all! Those who wore the brace more than 13 hours a day had a success rate of 90% or higher.
In adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, the primary surgery used today is fusion surgery. In this surgery, metal implants are attached to the spine and then connected to a single rod or 2 rods. This configuration holds your spine correction in place until the vertebrae fuse together into the corrected position. The incision is usually made in your back, but can be made in the front if you have a single thoracic (middle or middle-upper back) or a single lumbar (lower back) curve. The surgery will take several hours to complete. Patients usually stay in the hospital for 3 to 6 days after the surgery. As new, promising surgical procedures are being studied and tested, spinal fusion remains the prevalent and most enduring procedure to date. Your surgeon will discuss all the specifics of your surgical options with you, and can answer all of your questions.
Spinal fusion surgery should stop your curve from growing and will very likely also significantly improve the curvature.
Everyone recovers differently, but here is what typically occurs:
|3-6 days post-surgery:||Leave hospital|
|10-14 days post-surgery:||Discontinue pain medication|
|3-4 weeks post-surgery:||Return to school|
|7 days - 6 months post-surgery:||Gradually return to activities|
|6 months post-surgery:||Resume full participation in all activities|
For more information on surgery for scoliosis, please visit the Surgery for Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis Frequently Asked Question's page.