Ask the Doctors

Q: I have just been diagnosed with Scoliosis…What are my options?

A: Scoliosis is defined as the lateral bending and twisting of the spine.  It is a 3-dimensional deformity.  When a curve develops, the spine also twists, or rotates to the left or right.  There are naturally occurring curves in the spinal column evident when viewed from the side, but when observed from the back, the spinal column should look straight.  When scoliosis is present, you will see a sideways shift to the right or to the left.

What Causes Scoliosis?

Scoliosis can arise from a number of underlying conditions but the most common form is “idiopathic” which means “cause unknown”.

Idiopathic scoliosis is thought to be present in two to three percent of adolescents.  One in five hundred will require active treatment and only one in five thousand have curves that progress to the degree where surgery is recommended.  Girls and boys are equally affected by small degrees of scoliosis.  Girls however are eight times more likely than boys to develop progressive curves.  Scoliosis is more likely to progress during periods of rapid growth.

Treatment of Scoliosis- The Schroth “Method”

Long Island Spine Specialists certified orthopaedic spine surgeons, with a team specializing in scoliosis, often receive referrals of young patients subsequent to screening by their school nurse, pediatrician, or family doctor.  After a comprehensive evaluation, treatment decisions are made based upon the skeletal maturity of the patient as well as the degree of the curvature.  There are essentially three traditional treatment options; observation, bracing to arrest progression of the curve, or surgery with the goal being to permanently correct the curvature.

Long Island Spine Specialists, P.C., is pleased to offer promising information about 3-D treatment of Scoliosis from the Barcelona Scoliosis Physiotherapy School (BPPTS) based on Schroth principles.  The Schroth™ method is a non-surgical treatment of scoliosis; a physical therapy option that may delay or possibly eliminate the need for surgery.  A growing amount of literature written by physical therapists documenting clinical studies is suggesting that the Schroth method can slow or stop curve progression in adolescents reverse abnormal curves, reduce pain, increase vital capacity, and possibly avoid surgery. 

This method is compatible with adolescent bracing and supports efforts to maintain muscle tone and lung capacity.  The system may show some ability to stabilize the curve and decrease the chance of progression by teaching patients how to activate their muscles for a more balanced appearance.  Schroth requires active involvement of the patient and caregivers to be successful.

While we do not yet have conclusive evidence that the Schroth™ Method will halt the progression of a curve, there are many cases of reported success.  Patients and families interested in Schroth should seek therapy only through practitioners who have been certified in the Schroth method.

In our tradition of excellence, LISS continues to guide patients by evaluating promising new information an offering every surgical and nonsurgical option to our patients so that informed treatment decisions can be made.  Our primary professional and ethical responsibilities are to provide knowledgeable, compassionate care and patient advocacy.

Long Island Spine Specialists hopes that the material presented here will be helpful although it is intended only to provide information regarding choices and not endorsement for specific treatment.