Scoliosis

Our spinal experts assess the extent of your scoliosis and help you explore all of your treatment options.

Overview

What Is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a curving of your spine from side to side. While some sideways curve is natural, people with scoliosis have an extreme curve that can resemble the letter S or C.

Through our team approach, our specialists provide personalized treatment for scoliosis, using nonsurgical options when possible. Our advanced treatments for children, adolescents and adults include different types of back braces and scoliosis surgery.

Orthopedics: The Aurora Difference

Expert Scoliosis Diagnosis & Treatment

Aurora Health Care’s comprehensive back and spine programs make it easier for you to get back to the activities that matter most to you. People choose us because we offer:

  • High-precision surgery: We were the first hospital in the world to offer robot-assisted spinal surgery, and our surgeons are among the most experienced in the world in these procedures. We’re also one of just a few hospitals nationwide using telescopic microscopy, a new tool that gives surgeons detailed views of the spine during surgery. Our advanced technology and expertise mean that we can provide a more precise surgery, faster recovery and overall better results for you.
  • Team-based approach: At Aurora, we connect you with a full team of specialists who work together to give you a personalized treatment plan. Our spine experts work directly with chiropractors and physical therapy experts, offering noninvasive scoliosis treatment options whenever possible.
  • Noninvasive scoliosis treatment: Several of our physical therapists are certified in the Schroth Method. The Schroth Method can stop and even reverse curve progression while eliminating pain – all without the need for surgery.
  • Seamless care coordination: When you come to us for care, we’ll assign you your very own nurse navigator, who’ll guide you through the process from diagnosis to treatment. And thanks to our integrated medical record system, you won’t have to worry about tracking down images and test results. Our goal is to make the process as streamlined as possible for you.

Learn more about the Aurora difference in orthopedics.

Symptoms & Types

Types of Scoliosis

In most cases, doctors don’t know what causes scoliosis. The less common types of scoliosis may result from a disease, injury, infection or birth defect. Types of scoliosis include:

  • Congenital scoliosis is present at birth, occurring when a baby’s ribs or vertebrae don’t form properly in the womb.
  • Infantile scoliosis develops in children before age 3.
  • Juvenile scoliosis occurs in children ages 4 through 10.
  • Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) occurs in adolescents between ages 10 and 16.
  • Degenerative scoliosis can develop in adults as a complication of conditions like osteoporosis or arthritis. Learn more about arthritis.
  • Neuromuscular scoliosis relates to underlying nerve or muscular disorders like muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, cerebral palsy or spinal cord injury.

Signs & Symptoms of Scoliosis

Severe cases of scoliosis can be disabling and even cause deformities. Visible symptoms of scoliosis include:

  • Obvious curve in your spine
  • One hip that’s higher than the other
  • One leg that’s longer than the other
  • One shoulder blade that’s more visible than the other
  • Uneven shoulders or waist

If you have scoliosis, you might also experience symptoms like fatigue, low back pain or difficulty breathing.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Scoliosis Tests & Imaging

To start, your doctor will examine you and investigate any numbness, weakness or problems with your reflexes. If examining a child, the doctor may ask them to bend over, which makes it easier to see the curve of the spine.

You or your child may also need tests to confirm your diagnosis, including:

  • X-ray scan: This quick test gives doctors pictures of your skeleton, showing the degree of the curve in your spine.
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan: An MRI scan uses radio waves and strong magnets to create detailed images of bones and soft tissues.
  • CT (computed tomography) scan: A CT scan uses X-rays and computer imaging to create detailed pictures of your spine.
  • Scoliometer screening: During this screening, your doctor places a card called an inclinometer on your back to measure the curve of your spine.
  • Bone scan: Before a bone scan, you’ll receive a small injection of radioactive substance to help your doctor see the details of your spine better.

Find out more about orthopedic diagnosis.

Scoliosis Treatment

The decision to treat scoliosis is a personal choice based on many factors. These factors include the severity and location of the curve, as well as your age and gender.

In children with scoliosis, girls have a higher risk of the condition getting worse over time than boys. However, many children who have scoliosis don’t need treatment. Instead, your child’s doctor will schedule regular follow-up visits to check that the condition isn’t getting worse.

In other cases, you or your child may require one of the following treatments:

  • Schroth exercises: Using the Schroth Method, our physical therapists tailor stretching, strengthening and breathing techniques to the curvature of you or your child’s spine. These special exercises, which help stop and reverse scoliosis, can be done at home, too.
  • Physical therapy: Our physical therapists offer one-on-one sessions to treat milder forms of scoliosis with exercises tailored to you or your child’s condition. These exercises help manage scoliosis symptoms and improve daily functioning. Physical therapy can also be beneficial during other kinds of scoliosis treatment, too, including bracing or after surgery.
  • Underarm or low-profile braces: Doctors use these braces for curves in the lower back. The brace fits close to your body and is nearly invisible under clothes.
  • Spinal fusion surgery: This type of scoliosis surgery permanently connects two or more vertebrae. Doctors may recommend surgery for severe cases of scoliosis to make sure the condition doesn’t affect the heart or lungs.

Where to go for Back & Spine Care

Our experts will help guide your care, connecting you with an integrated team of specialists all working together on your personalized treatment plan. Learn more about our four programs:

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