Scoliosis Program

Children's Hospital's team of experts provides specialized care for kids with scoliosis. We offer the only multidisciplinary program in Wisconsin just for kids.

Our pediatric orthopedic team believes in a simple approach to treating scoliosis. We reserve surgery for only the most severe cases. We see more than 3,000 scoliosis patients each year, but surgical patients make up only 3 percent of our total scoliosis visits.

What is scoliosis?

A normal spine, when viewed from behind, appears straight. A spine affected by scoliosis shows a sideways curve and a rotation of the bones in the back (the vertebrae). This curve and rotation makes it looks like a child is leaning to one side. The Scoliosis Research Society defines scoliosis as a curve of the spine measuring 10 degrees or greater on an x-ray.

What causes scoliosis?

In most cases, we don’t know the cause of scoliosis. But doctors do know that scoliosis is more common in girls than boys, and it is often inherited from a parent.

When does scoliosis appear?

Doctors usually diagnose scoliosis when a child is between the ages of 10 and 15, but it can appear anytime a child's spine is growing.

Common symptoms of scoliosis

A child with scoliosis will usually have differences in:

  • Shoulder height
  • Hip height or position
  • Shoulder blade height or position
  • The way the arms hang beside the body when standing straight
  • The sides of the back
  • How noticeable the ribs are when bending forward

Diagnosing scoliosis

Finding scoliosis early is very important for successful treatment. At Children’s we use cutting-edge technology, like the EOS low-dose radiation scanner and Quantec, to help diagnose scoliosis. Children's Hospital was one of first two pediatric hospitals in the nation with an EOS scanner.

Treating scoliosis

The goal of scoliosis treatment is to stop the curve from getting worse and to prevent future problems. Treatment may include:

  • Observation
  • A back brace
  • Scoliosis surgery (only when absolutely necessary)

Support groups

Children's offers support groups for kids who wear scoliosis braces and those who may need surgery.