Children's Hospital of Wisconsin has a team approach to treating patients with scoliosis. This means that patients benefit from the expertise of orthopedic doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pain management specialists, orthotists and physical therapists.
What to expect
There is no universal treatment for scoliosis, because each patient is different. Our experts understand that caring for kids with scoliosis means looking at the whole body.
When a patient is diagnosed with scoliosis, he or she will have a detailed medical exam that includes a state-of-the-art, low-dose radiation X-ray of the spine using EOS. The exam also includes questions about your child's current activity level and abilities. This helps us understand how scoliosis may impact his or her daily activities. In addition, our team of physical therapists will evaluate your child's:
- Coordination and balance.
- Daily functioning skills (running, walking, lifting and carrying).
Based on the exam results, we will develop a treatment plan for your child. Our goal is to stop the curve from getting worse and prevent future problems. Treatment may include:
Not all curves need treatment. Our orthopedic specialists may monitor curves that are less than 20 degrees. Some small curves will not get bigger or cause any problems.
- A back brace.
There is a good chance that larger curves may increase. If the curve gets bigger, usually a range of 20 to 40 degrees, our specialists may decide your child needs to wear a brace, especially if he or she still is growing. Braces usually slow down or stop the curve from getting worse.
- A back brace.
Children's Hospital has on-site specialists called orthotists who make scoliosis braces. Some braces aren't any higher than the upper torso, so they can be hidden under most clothing. Patients usually can remove the brace a few of hours a day for sports and other activities. Sometimes the brace may only be worn at night, but that depends on the size and location of the curve.
Parents and kids with scoliosis often want to know how scoliosis might affect their daily life and may find it helpful to be part of a support network. We offer a support group twice a year for kids who wear a scoliosis brace. Patients and parents lead the group with help from a pediatric orthopedic nurse. Surgical support groups also are available and held many times throughout the year.
Patients with scoliosis often benefit from physical therapy. Our physical therapists are trained to care for kids with scoliosis, and they know that the whole body, and how it moves, affects the spine. They develop an individual exercise and therapy program for each patient, based on the type and location of the spinal curve, as well as his or her specific needs and activities. Therapists work with each patient to improve how his or her body moves, core strength and flexibility, as well as reduce pain.
This style of care includes elements of the Scientific Exercise Approach to Scoliosis as well as other physical therapy methods. Therapists study current research related to spine care so they are knowledgeable about the most effective, conservative scoliosis treatment.
We see more than 3,000 scoliosis patients each year, but surgical patients make up only 3 percent of our total scoliosis visits. When a child with scoliosis does need surgery, experience, options and family support matter. Orthopedic surgeons at Children's Hospital use the most advanced techniques in scoliosis surgery, including procedures that dramatically reduce recovery time from months to days.