Scoliosis Advice

Archived Responses: 

Rolfing for scoliosis?

June 2013

I have scoliosis (s-curve with slightly twisted vertebrae) and it affects my posture, muscle tensions, etc., and rolfing has been suggested. however, it's expensive and I don't know if it's quackery or not. Has anyone had experience with that? Chiropractic treatment hasn't really worked. thanks! all twisted up

Although I don't know how if it can help scoliosis, I am a FIRM believer in Rolfing. I completed 10 sessions and felt a noticable difference in the way I walked, sat, and just moved in my environment. I went primarily to improve my posture and definelty felt it was worth the money. Rolfing is no joke. Its painful, but I think that is why it works. I recomend Greg Brynelson. He is not only a rolfer but an RN with an acute awareness of the body and physiology. Good luck! Walking taller

I have scoliosis and did a series of Rolfing (10 sessions) about 10 years ago. I highly recommend it and foundit helpful to rearrange connective tissue and reduce muscle strain. It's a real therapy which has many applications, just realize it is gonna be's not relaxing and nothing like a massage. I was able to get some of the cost covered by insurance as the provider was also a PT and billed as such. If you can swing the time and cost, and endure the likely pain,it is very worthwhile. big A

Scoliosis brace and airplane travel

Oct 2012

Hi all, We're planning an international trip in Mid-November. My 12 year old daughter wears a plastic brace for her scoliosis which has a few metal buckles. It just occurred to me that she might get pulled out of line for a pat down or something like that. I'd like to avoid any hassle getting through TSA and would like to hear other people's experiences with this. I was thinking of just having her not wear it until we get through the line, putting the brace through the X-ray machines, and then she can put it back on again. She's supposed to wear it all the time, so it's not like we can leave it home for ten days. Thoughts? Trying it make it easier

I worked a brace for two years. I did not fly during that time but my suggestion would be to check the brace (padded in a duffel bag or similar) and let her fly without it. Next best option would be to go to the airport with it off and put it on after security . Flying long distance is so uncomfortable even without a brace, and you are not guaranteed overhead bin space if she wants to take it off. I would really think about checking it and ask if you can check it at the gate. My parents let me have it off on weekend days when we went to the beach (sometimes all day) and also for hours for dance class. Of course you should also ask her orthopedist! Good luck Susan

Seeking excellent doctor for adult Scoliosis

Jan 2011

I have had Scoliosis since my teen years but it has progressed and causes me significant pain. I saw a Dr Slabaugh (Oakland) about 20 years ago - I am now 50, but he didn't help. It appears one leg is shorter than the other, one hip higher than the other and I have upper and lower thoracic curves. They are both pronounced - I have a large hump on upper right of back, one lower shoulder, etc. and cannot sit for long, sleep for more than 5-6 hours, stand for long periods, carry bags, or sit comfortably on a flight for longer than an hour.

The pain and associated problems affect me every day. I would like to find a doctor who has success with treating Scoliosis and the related problems (lungs compromised, hip pain due to lack of symmetry, lower and upper back pain, sometimes crippling back pain. Sacroiliac Joint pain, misaligned neck with pain etc. repeated falls due to the longer leg hitting the ground first, etc.. I also notice now that my 14 year old daughter has a curve in her back from the side profile, and am concerned that she too may have Scoliosis. If you have dealt with Scoliosis or know of someone who has, and if you know of a great doctor anywhere in the bay area, I would love to hear from you. Thanks Want to be pain-free!

I was told I had scoliosis since I was a teen also... I recently started going to ALIGN Chiropractic Center and my back pain is almost completely gone. I learned that I have a short leg, which was causing a pseudo-scolisis. I've been doing decompression therapy for a month now and my back feels stronger then ever. The Doctors at ALIGN have experience working with both teens and adults. 510- 654-2207; anon

I would advise you to avoid chiropractors and other alternative treatment modalities until you are evaluated by an orthopedist physician who specializes in scoliosis. What you describe is not to be taken lightly and is likely to worsen as you age and the quality of your life continue to deteriorate. UCSF has one of the world's best spine services and they routinely treat adult scoliosis. You need to be evaluated with treatment recommendations from experts in this in order to make an intelligent decision. If I remember correctly from your original post, you were inadequately or not treated at all as an adolescent, when you should have been, and this is causing your present problems because your curves are not stable, they are deteriorating. Here is the dept. website with contact information:

Here is information about scoliosis:

Best of luck living with the same thing

Brace treatment for child's scoliosis

Nov 2010

Dr. Policy of Children's Hospital Oakland recently diagnosed my child with idiopathic scoliosis and has recommended a brace be worn for the next 3-4 years for 20 hours per day. Would be very appreciative of any comments regarding Dr. Policy and/or this treatment for scoliosis. Seems a very extreme protocol, especially with no guarantees of avoiding surgery. Worried Mom

I would get a second opinion. When my 14-year-old son, then a high school varsity runner, was first diagnosed with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis and a 23-hour brace was recommended, we both said ''no way!'' We switched to Dr. Peper Slabaugh of Webster Orthopaedic Associates for scoliosis care. My son wore a Charleston nighttime brace for a few years while continuing his active lifestyle and high-intensity athletic training. At 18, he completed his growth with the Cobb angle unchanged. His scoliosis now is stable and no further treatment is necessary. I highly recommend reading ''Scoliosis and the Human Spine'' by Martha Hawes. I found it very empowering. Been there

While I don't know a lot about using a brace for scoliosis (I thought that was the dark ages), this protocol does seem extreme...I DO know, however, that Pilates exercise is very effective in maintaining scoliosis. You don't say how old your child is. If he/she is old enough to pay attention and follow some direction, this could be helpful to balance the muscles in the back and hips. I know of a trainer in Alameda(Don't know her name...sorry) who specializes in scoliosis. Many Pilates trainers around the area are very skilled in working with people/kids with scoliosis. It would be worth checking out before agreeing to the extreme of 20 hours in a brace. Good luck. mom w/ scoliosis son

I have recent experience with Dr. Policy, and a diagnosis of idiopathic scoliosis. We got a second opinion at UCSF, which for us was very relieving, and have also been using some other practitioners that have been extremely helpful. I'm happy to talk to you personally about our experience, I've been quite involved in the process for the last several months and have quite a bit of information that I think could be helpful. Please ask the moderator for my e-mail address. anon

2007 - 2009 Discussions

Teen with Scoliosis Looking for Physical Therapist

Sept 2009

My 14 year old daughter just had a growth spurt and now has a 19 degree curve (S shaped actually) in her spine. I had this as a preteen and did exercises which corrected it a lot before I stopped growing. We have maybe a year window for my girl. I am looking for both a great sensitive pediatric orthopedist (prefer a woman - are there any out there now that Monica Kogan has moved to Chicago?) and a physical therapist specializing in Scoliosis in teens. please share your ideas and referrals! Help Us Correct Scoliosis

John King Sports and Orthopedic Specialists 547-2102 6300 Telegraph Ave, Oakland

Hi, have you considered or thought about a Chiropractor for your daughter? I have lumbar scoliosis and have seen orthopedic docs and massage therapists. But what really remedied the pain I have experienced most of my life,(I'm in my 40's now)since I was diagnosed with scoliosis at 13 yr of age, was a Chiropractor, who I have been seeing for almost 15 yrs and I have my family see him for treatments. He can probably help your daughter and give her gentle yet aggressive exercises to ease her spinal curve also to avoid future pain and progressive curvature as she matures. If you chose to go this route, my Chiropractor is Dr. Steven Jakobsen, located in Lafayette, his office number is (925)283-8140. Good luck! Denise

I highly recommend Dr. Peter Slabough in Oakland. After another orthopaedic surgeon scared my teenage son with spinal fusion surgery threats, Dr. Slabough's conservative approach worked very well for us. My son wore a nightime brace to correct his scoliosis for several years (until growth completion), without any changes to his active lifestyle (running on his high school varsity team, cycling, backpacking, traveling the world...) been there

Our 5 year old just diagnosed with scoliosis

June 2009

Hi, Our daughter was just diagnosed with scoliosis, and we have our first appointment with the orthopedic specialist this week. So I don't know much yet -- how much of a curve (although I think minor at this point), treatment recommendations, etc. My question at this stage is really about how to talk about this with my daughter. Most advice online is focused on adolescent children facing a brace/surgery. I think I have good instincts on this, but it's always helpful to hear from others who have already gone through something. And of course, it would be nice to connect with other families who are dealing with this. Anyone out there have any experience with scoliosis with their young child? Many thanks

Contact the Scoliosis Association of San Francisco. It is run by Linda Racine, who has scoliosis. They have meetings They have a yahoo group. This is her website: (650)726-0341 scoliosissf [at]

Also National Scoliosis Foundation ( The National Scoliosis Association is another well known group:

The BPN archives have posts to previous questions on scoliosis (in case you haven't searched them):

Best of luck to your family. Your daughter is VERY LUCKY that you discovered her curve so early and she is getting treatment. Hopefully she will not grow up like some of us have with very visible and nearly disabling deformities. anonymous

Hi there! Some people have actually have good results with Feldenkrais. Get her on a swim team to stabilize her back and put her in dance classes. Consider gentle chiropractic care too...I love Reuben Ziegler in Berkely for chiropractic. Early age and small curve that is just a ''C'' curve, not an ''S'' , she may be a candidate for an electrode implanted on the concave side of the curve, which she activates at night, and in 2-3 years it tends to reduce or stabilize the curve. Wish you well!

Our 7-year-old grandson, with 15% scoliosis, was just found (via MRI) to have an attached spine. Unusual, but not extremely rare, his spine is attached at the bottom, so as he grows, the spine cannot grow as fast, and starts curving. The remedy, which he is having next week, is a fast and simple (we are told) arthroscopic procedure to detach the spine at the bottom. Either 0 or 1 night in hospital, two weeks of taking it easy afterwards. john

Hi there, I am in my 30s and have kyphosis which is similar to scoliosis except my spine is curved forward. I saw the note about swimming which was the same advice my parent's got. Being a type A personality, I became a competative swimmer swimming 4 hours a day, was recruited to swim for college, but eventually ripped up my shoulders so badly I had to quit swimming my second year of college and haven't been in the pool since -- too painful. My kyphosis feeds into my cronic back and neck pains (many years of PT and wearing a back brace didn't ever seem to make a dent in correcting the curve of my spine and I had reputable doctors at Boston's Children's hospital) but my swimming injuries (not the kyphosis) are what cause most of my pain. All this to say, have your daughter swim in moderation! She's only 5 now but if she takes to swimming, monitor the amount of yardage she is doing and inform her coaches of her scoliocis so that if she tells a coach she is experiencing pain, she is told to stop rather than the ''no pain no gain'' line I got. Swimming gave me many gifts of friendship, discipline, determination which I hope your daughter is able to experience, but I guess you really can have too much of a good thing. I miss swimming

In my 30's, scoliosis is bothering me now

April 2008

I have had scoliosis since I was young...never bad enough for bracing or surgery, but now that I am in my early 30's it bothers me frequently. I practice yoga and am in OK physical health, but the muscle imbalances are taking their toll. I need recommendations for good orthopedic doctors who specialize and/or have experience with treating scoliosis in older patients. Thanks. Feeling old with a bad back at 31

Contact UCSF spine service They are the best in the country for older pts and for revision surgery. anonymous with scoliosis

Have you tried Pilates for scoliosis? I work at Synergy Fitness Pilates Studio on Solano ave in Albany. We have a lot of clients (and 2 of our trainers) with varying degrees of scoli. Your trainer in Pilates will design a program specifically for you. You will strengthen in a way that will support your body and help you to be pain free. There are many good Pilates studios around. If Synergy Fitness is near you, check us out, June

She's not an orthopedic doctor, but my chiropractor, Karen Kartch, has recently helped me make a lot of progress reducing my scoliosis, using ''The Graston Technique'' along with some exercises. The Graston Technique involves a set of specially shaped tools that the chiropractor (some PTs use it, too) uses to break up old adhesions and scar tissue. Kartch Chiropractic is at 3661 Grand Ave. near Safeway. The phone number is 510.444.4449.

At the same time, I've taken some classes called Body Balance to re-align my posture. Dana Davis is based in Petaluma but offers classes in Berkeley (, and Jean Couch works in Palo Alto ( There is also a great book that explains the theory, with lots of helpful pictures and exercises to start you on your way: Ageless Spine, Lasting Health by Kathleen Porter.

Doing both of these together has really helped me change painful patterns. Good luck! Karisa

I was diagnosed with a 35 degree lumbar curve when I was twelve that has on and off given me issues. As an adult, yoga was good ritual, but I never fully recovered from my pregnancy. PT #3 diagnosed a combo of pelvic injury from pregnancy and my old friend scoliosis.

With an amazing team of practitioners (an rockin' PT who has a scoliosis magic- I had heard rumors of him, a loving and gentle Rolfer, a gifted Osteopath, and a non-invasive spine specialist MD to round it out) I have probably lost at least 10 degrees from my curve. And I think I will lose more. I don't think any of these specialist's gifts would have worked as strongly alone - they complemented each other extremely well. And the PT and Rolfer developed a good collaboration.

The pros: Little to no back pain. And my pants fit better. My ribcage is shaped differently - its more balanced.

The cons: it was time consuming and expensive, only the PT would bill my insurance. In the gym I wished I had focused on more Pilates and swimming instead of my old weights routine. I got aggressive and ended up with a bulging disk in my neck, and then headaches. Now in healing mode and definitely mending, I see there is an integration in the body of where the curve moves to. It doesn't just disappear, it needs to work its way out. And I wonder if I did too much work too fast. When I go back for more it will be at a slower pace.

I wish my parents had taken me to even just one of these practitioners when I was 12 and 13 and newly diagnosed.

Please feel free to contact me to discuss further. Take care, Julia

2004 - 2006 Discussions

Mother-in-law experiencing severe curvature

Nov 2006

Has anyone had experience with managing scoliosis? My mother-in-law is experiencing severe curvature (66%) and often severe pain. She does not have osteoporosis, and was never diagnosed to have scoliosis until a few years ago. What could have caused this? Her doctor says surgery would only provide a cosmetic benefit. She swims daily and does yoga which helps a lot to keep pain away. We were wondering if anyone has had success with other treatments, and would so appreciate any advice! Kristine

Scoliosis in an older person may or may not be due to childhood scoliosis. Send your MIL to a good specialist in the field of scoliosis. I recommend Dr. Peter Slabaugh of Oakland. Robert

I feel for your mother-in-law. I have scoliosis that's become severe, and it's very difficult to assimilate the changes it brings. That said, I believe her doctor, probably not an orthopedic surgeon, is incorrect in saying that the surgery would provide only a cosmetic benefit. After having seen specialists the last few years to monitor my curve, my understanding is that the difficult surgery with its long recovery is undertaken by patients with no further recourse ONLY BECAUSE when successful, it does provide physical relief and stabilization.

A group to contact is the Scoliosis Association of San Francisco. Linda Racine is a kind, well-informed advocate for scoliosis patients (she's one herself). She'd be good for your MIL to contact, either via the associated yahoo group, or by phone (google to find). Also National Scoliosis Foundation ( Your MIL should see an orthopedic surgeon who can assess her properly and see if she's a candidate for surgery now, or can stave it off. I was basically told, if you can manage without it, do. The only catch is that waiting until a much older age means a tougher, slower recovery. If your MIL doesn't know who to see, she should definitely get advice from Linda Racine or other seasoned scoliosis patients. From experience,

I can say emphatically, this is one condition where an experienced specialist is mandatory. I've wasted time with others, called ortho surgeons on my ins list only to hear the receptionist unable to pronounce scoliosis! Don't go there! Probably no one can say why she got it. Sometimes as we age, minor problems intensify, hormones are less supportive, and things just wear out. Science says exercise can't straighten the curve, but anecdotal evidence and even the docs now promote it for managing the pain and for strengthening. Yoga, pilates, and swimming have helped me. Elise Browning Miller (google her) is a Palo Alto yoga teacher whose own scoliosis became her teacher; yoga for scoliosis is now the specialty she's well known for. She's one person who actually seems to have reversed some of her curvature through yoga--bazillions of hours of it. If your MIL wants to contact me, feel free to pass on my eddress. Barbara

11-year-old just evaluated for scoliosis

August 2006

Hi, I am trying to reach parents of children with scoliosis or other spinal conditions. Our 11-year old daughter's condition has just progressed to a point where treatment is indicated and we would appreciate connecting with people who have had the experience of evaluating treatment recommendations and helping their child adjust to wearing a brace. Thanks very much.

You might try calling the Family Resource Network in Oakland. This great organization has lots of info, parent meetings, and resources for parents of kids with all kinds of special needs.The phone is (510)547-7322 Special needs parent

Teen's back brace causing skin irritation

Jan 2006

My sweet son was diagnosed with scoliosis, and now wears a back brace. He is doing very well, but there is a spot where the brace rubs against his skin. It has caused a raw spot that heals and then hurts again. It has also caused dark bruising in the same area. Does anyone have experience with this? Is there a way to avoid the skin irritations? We already switched to a very mild clothing detergent. Is there a good dermatologist we might visit? Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Patti

My 15-year-old daughter has been wearing a similar back brace for two years. She has very dry skin and a tendency to develop exzema so the orthopedist and the peditatrician both recommended that she wear a very thin layer of clothing between her skin and the brace. The t-shirts made for cyclists, that keep moisture away from the skin, have worked very well. I got them at REI. The pediatrician has also recommended the very thin cotton/lycra t-shirts made by Gap Body, which are comfortable because they have no side seams, but I don't know if they are available in men sizes. Best of luck, Laura

A scoliosis brace should not be rubbing the skin raw. Take your son back to the prescribing doctor and/or the orthotist who made the brace. It needs to be adjusted. Robert A. Fink, M. D. rafink [at]

Hi Patti, Sounds like a pressure sore and if the problem is not resolved, this could really be troublesome for your sweet son. I would contact the orthotist who supplied the brace first. There are a number of ortho-foam-type products and/or self-adhesive gel products which might pad the brace more effectively where it is irritating. Also, the frame itself might need to be adjusted for a better, tailored fit. Keep on them until it's right. My son uses a wheelchair and has a recurring pressure sore. Of course we watch this carefully but, in addition, continually apply a product that we have found is the best so far in alleviating and preventing skin irritation and soreness: 100% Shea Butter supplied by Bare Escentuals (4th Street Berkeley). There are other Shea Butters on the market, but this one is quite thick and really sticks to the skin. Also, medical supply companies carry over-the-counter products specifically designed for pressure sores, waterproof/sweat-proof and some can be applied directly on a sore which is open. First though, I'd get after the brace supplier and/or the doc who prescribed the brace for help. The bruising tells me this is far more than a surface issue and is harming tissue below the skin. Best of luck! Ann

Heartfelt thanks to each of you who took the time to share your experiences with scoliosis. I no longer feel so alone in figuring this all out. The information you provided has been most helpful. We know that it takes a village to raise a child. Thank you for being an important part of my village. Patti

Alternative treatment for adult scoliosis?

Sept 2005

I am wondering if anyone out there can recommend a good alternative health practitioner who works with adult scoliosis. I've heard of people achieving dramatic results with various treatments such as rolfing, chiropractic, yoga, etc. and would love to talk to a few such people. I met one person who had a lot of success with chiropractic (traction) and another who had success with rolfing but would like to get more information before making a decision. geri

I have scoliosis and after living with recurring back pain for most of my adult life, I went to see Dr. Timothy Shen ( who referred me to SOL Physical Therapy ( where I have had a great experience. I don't know how alternative it is, but my PT used Active Release Technique on me ( in combination with exercises for strengthening and flexibility and my back feels better than it has in years. I am stronger and have a lot more symmetry in my body now. I had 14 sessions and now just do the exercies on my own. I highly recommend SOL and my PT, Laurie Barnum, or any practitioner who uses ART.

Scoliosis/spine care

Sept 2003

I am looking for good referrals for the care of my spine. I have Scoliosis, with quite a curve and pronounced hump. One leg is shorter, one hip higher, etc. One shoulder is quite a bit lower than the other, and my belly button is now off center as the rotation continues. I am contemplating another pregnancy but know that it will put increased pressure on my spine and the curve will worsen. I am hoping to see an expert in this arena, someone who can help me improve the posture I have, and work with me to strenghten my back and stomach muscles so that perhaps I can look and feel better. I do not want to go the surgical route, and nor do i wan to resort to painkillers even though I often have associated pain. Thanks, anon

I have seen both Pilates and Feldenkrais approaches to movement and body care be very helpful with scoliosis. They both help to increase your interior sense of where your center line is, which in turn gives you a sense of using both sides of your body equally. This equalization is what you are after and what will make inroads into the pain you have. Feldenkrais work can offer the sensibilities and awarenesses necessary for change, and Pilates can offer the exercises to maintain the changes. L T R

I would highly recommend trying chiropractic. Depending on your particulars (severity, age, etc.) a chiropractor would have a good chance of slowing, stopping, or possibly even reversing the curvature(s). Find one that works with posture and/or biomechanics; in this area I'd recommend Dr. Doug Ross (he's near the Berkeley/Oakland border) his practice is called Rockridge Family Chiropractic 428-9288. Dr. Ross not only adjusts your spine, but gives you exercises and stretches you can do at home to support the care you're receiving at the office. I'm certain that he would do a free telephone consultation if you have any questions or concerns. Lois W.