Because the skeletons of children & young adults grow quickly, there is a reasonable chance that if a curve is detected, the degree of the spinal curve may worsen as the spine continues to grow. In those cases, scoliosis treatment is advisable.
- Two braces used most often for this condition are the Milwaukee brace & the Boston brace.
- Studies show that bracing controls the curve and prevents progression. In most cases, bracing does not correct the curve; it just keeps it from getting worse.
- While in your brace, you won’t be able to participate in sports that require flexibility such as gymnastics or tumbling. Physical contact sports such as football, hockey, or soccer are also prohibited while wearing the brace
- Bracing is generally used for at least two years or until there is no sign of further change. Your surgeon will follow up at regular intervals. Follow-up visits & repeated x-rays are needed more often for the child who has a rapidly progressing curve or who is in a growth spurt.
- Non-surgical patients are advised to exercise regularly & to exercise in their brace if they are using one.
Unfortunately, some curves do not respond to bracing. Cervico-thoracic curves (from the middle of the back up into the neck) & curves greater than 40 degrees tend not to respond well to bracing. Also, older patients who are closer to skeletal maturity may not respond to bracing.
If bracing doesn’t stop the progression of scoliosis, then surgery may be needed.
Scoliosis surgery usually involves spinal instrumentation (i.e. rods, screws) & fusion (bone graft), to stop curve progression. Surgery does not cure scoliosis, but helps to correct and manage curve progression to avoid further deformity.
Post-operative patients are usually discharged from hospital within five to seven days. They are able to progress quickly, returning to routine daily activities, including returning to school. Your surgeon will discuss your activity restrictions.
The primary goal of treatment is to stabilize the lateral curvature in the back, strengthen the muscles that support the back, improve posture, lung function, flexibility and movement in the back. Speak with your doctor before starting an exercise program for scoliosis.