Scoliosis in Adults

Archived Q&A and Reviews


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

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

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

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

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.