ZocdocAnswersMy child was recently diagnosed with scoliosis. What are my options?

Question

My child was recently diagnosed with scoliosis. What are my options?

I'm scared that the problem will get worse and that my child will need surgery in the future. Is there a way to help him live an active, normal life without surgery?

Answer

Scoliosis is a common condition of a sideways curve of the spine that affects many children and adolescents. You need to schedule a visit with a doctor to discuss the best options in planning for your child's treatment to meet his or her needs. Your doctor will examine your child to determine how severe your child's curve is and where it occurs in the spine. In doing so, your doctor will order an x-ray image. Your doctor will also take into account the age of your child. Age is also a very important factor in planning treatment options. Appropriate treatment choices that meet your child's specific needs while your child's spine is still growing are best determined during your doctor's visit. That being said, curves measuring between 25 to 50 degrees are generally large enough to require treatment. Bracing is a treatment option to help the spine from getting worse. There are some cases, however, where the curve continues to grow even though a brace is in place. Curves greater than 50 degrees will likely be considered for surgery (a spinal fusion) to restore normal posture. On the other hand, if your child's scoliosis is mild (less than 20 degrees) and already fully grown, your doctor will need to monitor his or her spine every 6 months with a follow-up x-ray every year to make sure it is not getting worse. It is very rare for the curve to progress rapidly if your child is fully grown. Do schedule a visit with your doctor soon to explore the best treatment options.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.