Frequently Asked Questions
Can you please refer me to a doctor for my scoliosis?
Lists of some orthopedic doctors who are spine specialists are available for most states. The presence of a doctor’s name on the list for any slot is not to be considered an endorsement or referral by the NSF. Please write to us and indicate which state list you would like to receive. Your family physician, local hospitals or state medical societies are also sources for referrals.
My doctor told me not to worry about my scoliosis. What should I do?
If you are concerned about the diagnosis given to you, feel free to seek a second opinion.
Can you tell me what is the best treatment for Scoliosis?
The treatment prescribed for scoliosis, kyphosis or lordosis varies with the individual patient. Severity and location of the curve, age, potential for further growth and general health of the patient all must be taken into account. A mild curvature (up to 20 degrees) generally needs only periodic observation to watch for signs of further progression. Bracing is the usual treatment for children and adolescent with curves of 25-40 degrees, and in other special circumstances.
I have a mild scoliosis curvature. Should I be concerned?
Four out of five people with scoliosis have curves of less than 20 degrees. Such curves are usually unnoticeable to the untrained eye and are no cause for concern, provided they show no sign of further progression. However, in growing children and adolescents, mild curvatures can worsen quite rapidly (10 degrees or more in a few months ). Therefore, for this age group, frequent checkups by a primary care physician or orthopedist is well advised.
Will you please send me a description of exercises to help my scoliosis?
Orthopedists tell us that exercise alone will not prevent a curvature from progressing. Exercises are prescribed in conjunction with brace treatment to maintain muscle tone while the torso is immobilized by the brace. These exercises are prescribed individually according to the age of the patient and the location and degree of the curvature.
Do you think a chiropractor could help my scoliosis?
For moderate to major curvatures:
We do not know of any long-term study which shows that chiropractic treatment can stop a moderate (over 25 degrees) or major curve (over 40 degrees) from progressing in the bone growing years. It has been our experience that chiropractors who are knowledgeable about the development of idiopathic scoliosis in children will refer young patients with such curvatures to an orthopedist for a second opinion.
For minor curvatures:
It is still not clear whether spinal manipulation is effective in controling minor curves (under 20 degrees). Chiropractors do tell us that they have had success but they have not sent us controlled research data to support these claims. On the other hand, the data collected by orthopedists shows that without any form of treatment, 4 out of 5 minor curvatures will not progress beyond 20 degrees. For this reason, orthopedists no longer treat such minor curvatures but they do recommend periodic observation, especially in growing children.
Will scoliosis affect my ability to have children?
According to a recent study, pregnancy and delivery are rarely affected by scoliosis. Pregnant women are no more prone to progression than non-pregnant women. Any adult, male or female, with an untreated major curvature may experience a progression after skeletal maturity. The tendency to develop idiopathic scoliosis is inherited, so children of a scoliotic parent may be at greater risk than the general population. Early detection and treatment, however, should prevent problems.
When I was younger my scoliosis didn't bother me, but it has recently become more painful. What should I do?
If you are in pain or suspect a possible progression of your scoliosis curvature, a professional opinion should be obtained.
I have enclosed all the particulars concerning my scoliosis condition. What do you think would be the best treatment for me?
As lay persons, we are not in the position to give medical opinions. Each individual case of scoliosis, like fingerprints, is different. Your physician or orthopedic spine specialist is the person to consult.
I am preparing a science project on scoliosis and would like to receive information. Can you send me x-rays and braces to illustrate my report?
We are pleased about interest in scoliosis and hope our material will be of assistance. You are in the position to educate many people around you and, of course, this is one of our goals. We do not have braces or x-rays available. Check the resources area of the site for further sources of information.
How can I get in touch others who are dealing with spinal curvatures?
The Foundation maintains lists of support groups and pen pal services. Please call or write to request this information.
I lost my job and my insurance as a result of my scoliosis. Now I realize treatment is available for adults. Where can I find funds?
There may be funds available through Medicare or the Social Security Administration if you qualify. We are not aware of other help available.
Can the National Scoliosis help me with my medical expenses?
The National Scoliosis Foundation raises money for educational purposes and materials to assist postural screening programs in grades five through ten. We don’t have funds available for patient expenses. For information on free medical care for children 18 and under, call the Shriner’s Hospital toll free at (800) 237-5055.
I have been told that there are college scholarships available for scoliosis patients. Whom do I contact for information?
The National Scoliosis Foundation does not have funds or knowledge about such scholarships.
What is being done to find out what causes idiopathic scoliosis?
In 1996, the National Scoliosis Foundation held a 3,800 mile cross country bicycle campaign called “Cycling for the Cause” to raise awareness and research dollars to find the cause, prevention and cure for scoliosis. As a result we donated $30,000 to support etiology research now being conducted at Johns Hopkins University. We hope to continue that funding for this study and others until we know more about the causes of this condition. Tax deductible donations may be made to the National Scoliosis Foundation, 5 Cabot Place, Stoughton, MA 02072 or visit our donations page on the site.