Scoliosis in Teens & Preteens

Parent Q&A

Upset about 12-year-old's scoliosis diagnosis (Part 2) Dec 3, 2016 (11 responses below)
Upset about 12-year-old's scoliosis diagnosis (Part 1) Dec 3, 2016 (9 responses below)
Daughter having kyphosis surgery... Nov 7, 2016 (2 responses below)
  • After my son has scoliosis, my life turns down. I feel so bad for him and for me. Can't  accept this. From now on, life is no longer happy. I have no life anymore. Life is not worth for living. I wake up in fear every day. I cry easily and my heart is hurt so much. I falls asleep around 9 pm and wake up in the middle of the night then can't sleep back. My legs and hands are numbed and frozen. This is the end of the world. Should I continue this life or anyone can help? 

    You need to reach out for help today. Yes, life is work living and you need to be there for your son. Call the Berkeley Free Clinic right away - they offer counseling and can give you advice: (510) 548-2570. If you have a plan to end  your life, call suicide hotline now. 1-800-273-8255. Do it for your son and do it for me, I don't want to see you leave this life!

    Please, use the available hotline:  U.S. Helplines US Suicide Hotline 1-800-784-2433.  They'll know how to direct you to talk with the right people.

    Yes, you should continue this life.  Your son needs you

    I just saw your message on the weekly Parent Q&A email today, and felt compelled to contact you. I'm sorry to hear you are in pain. I want you to know that the way you feel can improve, even if you feel hopeless now. I have struggled with depression in the past, and it is very hard to have hope while you are depressed, but hope is always there. I worked with a therapist to figure out ways to combat my depression, and I'd strongly recommend speaking with a counselor or therapist if you haven't already.

  • My son 12 was diagnosed scoliosis 40 degree. He needs to wear brace. I wonder will it help? Any advise?  I am so depressed and can not accept the fact that my son has scoliosis . I want to die.. Please help

    You sound so unhappy about this - I had to respond. I'm sorry you are hurting so much, and I hope you get many responses with good leads for people to talk to.  I would like you to know that my wonderful husband has scoliosis, also diagnosed at about the age your son is now, similar degree (45).  He wore a brace, which didn't do what he had hoped. But that hasn't stopped him one bit.  He does exercises, to relax the back muscles that are working (too) hard to try to compensate for the asymmetry, and, true, he has back (and leg) problems. But: He is healthy and happy. And gorgeous!   

    About twenty years ago, we had a seminar at our hospital about using electrical stimulation at night for scoliosis instead of the bulky brace. Maybe Google that? And doing yoga type exercises and symmetrical sports like swimming. Not the end of his life!

    I'm so sorry you're having a tough time with your son's diagnosis. It's really hard to hear your child has a medical condition. Please do not despair! Luckily, we live in one of the best areas of the world for children's medical care and I am confident your son's medical care will be excellent.  My daughter was diagnosed with scoliosis at age 11, in the middle of 5th grade. She wore a brace for a few years but unfortunately her curve progressed and she had to have fusion surgery in June 2014. However, she recovered quickly and is now living a very normal life with no health issues. She is currently spending her sophomore year of high school as an exchange student in Europe, as a matter of fact. I am happy to talk with you about our experience and about other supportive treatments (yoga, physical therapy, swimming and the big ones).

  • Daughter having kyphosis surgery...

    (2 replies)

    Hi all,

    So my 15 year old daughter is scheduled to have spinal surgery for kyphosis (congenitally connected vertebrae in her lumbar spine that causes a forward curve) in February.  She will be having the vertebrae separated and then connected with rods.   I would appreciate feedback from those who have had spinal surgery regarding questions they made sure they asked their doctors or wished they had asked.   I'm so nervous I'm going to overlook asking something obvious. My current concern is will she be left, secondary to this surgery with chronic pain. I want to ask about that.  I don't know if the surgeon will be able to answer that question.   Any neurologists out there who can offer me some great questions to ask?  I feel pretty confident about our surgeon, Dr. Diab, with UCSF.  I just want to make sure I'm asking all the right questions.  Any one else out there in this situation? I know that scoliosis is more common. Thanks!

    My daughter had the 'smaller' version of this, and it was very painful right after surgery, but got better every day. She, like many others, could not tolerate the narcotic pain meds well, so we managed with Neurontin (unusual for post op pain, but worked great) and tylenol. I made sure she did not sit too long at a time the first few months. She is pretty much pain free now.

    My son was also born with congenital scoliosis and kyphosis - he is only 6 and had partial spinal fusion at 3, fused with rods for 3 levels. I can't speak for how a teenager would recover (it was a painful recovery for him, but the recovery is probably different for a child than a teenager), but I want to let you know about the congenital scoliosis facebook group which has been tremendously helpful for me. It's a private group so you will have to request to join, but there I got a lot of suggestions from other parents on how to prep my son for surgery, recovery, questions to ask doctors, etc. there are some teenagers/older adults with congenital scoliosis/kyphosis on the group as well, so you may get some tips directly from other teenagers who have gone through similar surgeries. best of luck to you and there is a lot of support out there!

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Spinal fusion surgery for 13yo's scoliosis

April 2014

Hi there,

We just got confirmation today that my 13 year old daughter will be having spinal fusion surgery due to her scoliosis this summer. I was wondering if there are any other parents who have gone through this and can offer advice, strategies, experiences, that sort of thing? Thank you!  Anon

Hi There - your question about spinal fusion surgery for scoliosis hit home for me.

I am 47, I was diagnosed with scoliosis at age 13 (Kaiser Oakland). It was (and is) ''severe scoliosis''. I was immediately put in a Milwaukee brace. I was in that thing until age 18. I also saw a chiropractor (Dr. Van Buskirk) several times a week for years. My curve is a backwards 'S'.

My parents said ''NO'' to surgery. The team at Kaiser and also Stanford wanted to do spinal fusion. My parents said ''no way'' not at age 13. I know it is so hard to predict what progression may occur. I sympathize with your situation, as an affected person and now as a parent myself.

Here is how I turned out: I have a 46 degree curve in my upper back and my lower is 47. I have lateral torque. But, I was on the cycling team at CAL during my years there. I was a coxswain on the crew team. I recently ran a marathon. I do not have much pain (nothing more than probably most 'normal' folks experience. The brace helped me grow into my curves. To look at me in clothes (or in a swimsuit) you wouldn't notice unless you really looked close (in the swim suit). I am grateful that my parents took a chance and did what they thought was right by not having the spinal fusion done.

My curves did progress in the brace. I consult a spinal specialist annually and do annual x-rays to monitor progression. I have been told I was really lucky that I didn't have the fusion done! I ask about doing it now; my doctors say not to do it. Now - EVERY person is different. For me, from the very beginning, every single vertebrae has been involved. To fuse my spine would have been like ramming a steel rod up my back from my tail bone to my shoulders. And, today it would be the same. I am hoping (praying) for some new treatments, only because I'd love to grow an inch or two!

Anyway - I wanted to give you my experience. I hear Baylor has done some amazing things with newer techniques to 'correct' scoli patients curves.

My best wishes to you and your child.
Scoli and living it

Scoliosis bracing for 13 Year Old - Other Therapies

Nov 2013

My 13 year old was screened for scoliosis last december, sent for an xray and with 12% curve told to wait 12-18 months before re-screening. We already had relationship with Pediatric Ortho for other daughter so we followed-up with him. He recommended a sooner appt. Her curve is now 20% and he recommends bracing. The brace will only be at night.

He suggests that the dna test for scoliosis wouldn't be helpful (not sure if I understand all the science there). He's dismissive that any other activities (other than just staying active) would be helpful. The archives are a few years old. Since then bracing has received more scientific support as a useful treatment.

I'd love to get any advice about chiropractic, yoga, feldenrkries. My husband is a doctor and so sometimes skeptical of chiropractic spinal manipulations. I'm wondering if feldenkries can connect with a young adolescent. We can just try stuff out, but there is so much going on it would be nice to have some focus! Lastly, any tips on helping my daughter cope. In scheme of life she still has it good, but it can be hard to digest all of this. mom of daughter with new diagnosis

I have been in exactly your situation. For us, it was less than a year of bracing before the curve worsened to the point that surgery was needed. The surgery is almost exactly one year in the past at this point, so it's all very fresh in my mind. Please ask the moderator for my contact info if you like; I don't really want to publish my child's experience (or mine), but I'm happy to share privately. over 40-degree curvature

For scoliosis and related skeletal issues, the new science about brain plasticity shows that people benefit from learning how they move and then learning how to move differently. Neuroscientists say the brain learns from movement. Our brains are the command centers for how we move our skeletons. Our nervous systems can improve with beneficial movement patterns. Like many people, I am mildly scoliotic. I couldn't walk without pain. After 2 years of guided movement lessons, I am hiking and jogging pain-free. Your daughter's nervous system may benefit from guided movement lessons, like Feldenkrais or the Anat Baniel Method. pam

Scoliosis/Kyphosis in 13 year old

Jan 2013

Hello, My 13 year old daughter was just diagnosed with 10 degree scoliosis (so very mild) and kyphosis. In addition her shoulders are not level -- her right is a little higher than her left. The orthopedist, Dr. James Policy, just recommended a recheck in a year, but I'd like to explore gentle ways of improving her spinal health and posture. (Her father has the same kyphosis-type poor posture and I don't want to see her end up looking like him). I'm thinking chiro, yoga, something like that maybe? She swims in the summer/fall, so I would think she's got a pretty decent core body strength, but maybe not. We are in Walnut Creek, so recommendations for out this way are appreciated. Concerned but don't want to overreact

I would recommend doing some pilates with a rehab pilates instructor. Although her core may be strong from her swimming; the repetitive nature of the swimming movement can actually exacerbate kyphotic tendencies. I recommend Turning Point studio in your area - they have great instructors there. Thanks Cynthia

Please ask your ortho. doctor to give you a referral to see a Physical Therapist. I don't think seeing a chiropractor will help your case. You can go to the closest outpatient Physical Therapy clinic you want. Annette

I have mild scoliosis as well. PILATES is the answer- especially one-on-one on a ''cadillac'' machine. Mat classes are good as well, but the expertise of one-on-one instruction is by far the best. Even if it's just once a week. Pilates is all about spine lengthening. It will teach your daughter good posture and body balance. Tell the instructor about the scoliosis and they will work on her spine and she will feel so good afterwards. wish I started young

Adolescent Scoliosis in 13 year old girl

Dec 2012

My 13 year daughter grew more than 5 inches in the last year. On her annual well child visit , her Pediatrician noticed early signs of Scoliosis. The doctor thinks we should wait and see. I am not a big fan of ''wait and see'' and like to take a more proactive course of action. I would love to hear from parents who have had to deal with a similar issue. My chiropractor suggested certain exercises and I was also thinking of signing her up for Pilates... Any suggestions welcome. Thank you. Anon

I'm in a similar boat with my daughter, so I'd love to hear what you find out. I thought about osteopathy, but I can't afford it - if you might be able to, you might give that some thought. A friend in New York recommended a chiropractic system called the Pettibon system - you can look this up, but in addition to chiropractic adjustments (which in my view are not critical, although that's not what the practitioner will likely tell you), the system involves exercises and re-molding of the spine. My daughter does warm-up, stretching-type exercises and then rests on foam blocks that re-shape the spine temporarily. Even with imperfect adherence to the regimen, her scoliosis seems to have improved about 50% in the past several months. I actually stopped the adjustments - the cost was prohibitive and I felt pressured in an unfriendly way about them by that chiropractor - but she's continuing the exercises, and I can see they're having a positive impact. Nancy

When I was in my 40's an osteopath told me I had mild scoliosis but she said most people do. Treatment for scoliosis is a big deal. (Well, at least it was when I was a kid.) I would ask your daughter's doctor why he thinks he should ''watch and wait''. If you're not satisfied with his answer, you could get a second opinion. Disclaimer: I have no medical expertise. This is just what I would do if it were my child. Francesca

Scoliosis is a prevalent condition that often goes undiagnosed and may never cause any serious problems. Your growing teen, who now has a diagnosis of scoliosis, may benefit from non-invasive and gentle movement lessons, such as Feldenkrais or The Anat Baniel Method. These lessons can help her grow into an organized skeleton that is strong and available for supporting all levels of activity. You can find local practitioners online. wishing you a good outcome

I'm not sure my post will help you but I have been through this myself. I have scoliosis and wore a brace from the ages of 13-17. When it was discovered (at 12) my parents were also told to wait and see, but the curvature worsened. At the time (20 years ago) there was not much you could do about it proactively with exercise, etc. Chiropractic intervention was also considered not to be useful. Things may have changed now; I have not kept up on this and don't know if there are new treatments for this condition.

I guess what I'm saying is that there may not be much you can do about it at this point. Her curvature may not worsen, but it definitely can as she is still growing. Only when she stops growing will her bones ''fuse'' into place and then the condition is not considered to be problematic. That is what happened to me, I still have a visible S curve in my spine but it likely didn't get worse because of the brace. At the time, I was told that if I didn't get a brace I might be facing surgery. This could have definitely been scaremongering....anyway, I'd advise getting a second opinion, and good luck! Sarah

When I was exactly your daughter's age, I was diagnosed with scoliosis. My doctor gave me the best advise any doctor ever gave me. He said that I could either continue with my bad posture or start swimming. I wasn't a swimmer and had so many hang ups about my body, it wasn't easy to start. But my mom pushed me and I am forever thankful for what she did. Now only did swimming become my main sport, it healed me. Today, I am in my thirties and have great posture. X-rays tell the truth about my scoliosis but I have no back problems even though with 3 young children I no longer have time to swim. Swimmer

Hi, Sorry I missed this question the first time it came out. My daughter is 12 and has scoliosis. She was diagnosed last year and we did a ''wait and see'' approach. We ended up doing the brace because right now she is at the most intense time of growth, which is right before girls start their periods. After they start menarche, growth slows down. So we felt that after watching her curve increase without a brace, we would kick ourselves if bracing actually made a difference. She was part of the decision because it's a lot to take on, especially in the beginning. But now it's just normal for her. She wears it outside of her shirts, even. I guess it's too much trouble for her to try to hide. She sees Dr. Berven at UCSF, who is ambivalent about bracing's effectiveness, and from what I've read, it's about 40%-60% effective. Personally I feel it really depends on the person and his/her individual circumstances. In September she started wearing a brace. My daughter wears her brace 24/7 except when she gets home from school (for about 2 hours) and except when she does sports (which is not often). As for complementary medicine, she did pilates/physical therapy with a great PT in Alameda, and she does yoga at school and she swims twice a week with the Berkeley Barracudas. I am happy to talk with you more about her treatment so feel free to email. Best of luck! laurel

12yo's 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

Just learned that 15yo has 20-30 degree scoliosis

Sept 2011

I've been just told my 15 almost 16 year old has 20-30 degree scoliosis. I'd appreciate support advice such as physical therapy, other exercise (especially yoga), emotional support, and how to parent. Personal experience really appreciated, and suggested doctors. We are following up with orthopedic doctor; I don't know what's next. Thank you so much. Another worried mom

Hi AWM, Both my kids had slight curves and were watched for a couple of years by a doctor at Childrens Hospital. It seems that no treatment is taken until the curve is past the 25% mark, or if it's 20degrees and rapidly getting worse. Here's a great link to get you started reading up on it. Medline Plus has links to many other great authorities on Scoliosis, like the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Mayo Clinic. I think in the end, you most likely won't have any medical treatment plan. But my kids love having hot baths and massages, especially when one side of their back muscles ache more than the other from sports or skateboard crashes. I have a great masseuse from Israel who believes in affordable massage if you'd like her name and number. Good luck. an

You might want to look at the website for specialized PT for scoliosis and kyphosis. My daughter received a lot of benefit from their program for her kyphosis. good luck and feel free to email me if you have questions.

We took our daughter who was diagnosed with scoliosis to Catherine Henderson who is an osteopath trained in England. Great results in about 6 sessions, so much so that at a scoliosis screening at school it was no longer detected. Our daughter was a bit younger (12) when initially diagnosed. May be very worthwhile looking into.

[Editor Note Nov 2017: Catherine Henderson notified us that she is no longer practicing in California.]

Our 14-year-old daughter was also recently diagnosed with moderate-to-severe scoliosis (an ''S'' curve of 30+ degrees on each curve). I would be happy to share with you what I know. Brenda

Hello there, My daughter who is now almost 21 years old was diagnosed with a 38 degree scoliosis when she was 15 or 16. By the time she was officially diagnosed, it was too late to do a back brace. She did go through a terrible year of intense pain (junior year of high school)that has since resolved. During the year of pain, we had a team of doctors (James Policy of Oakland's Children's in fabulous), chiropractor, pain specialist, physical therapist and an acupuncturist. Ultimately, it was the acupuncture that gave her the needed relief. Now she just has to be super careful about her back (she can't lift anything heavier than 20 lbs, she can only do short drives, etc). Mostly, the ''limitations'' are insignificant and do not interfere with the wonderful quality of her life. She's a happy, healthy junior in college.

I'm sure everything will work out with your child as well. Feel free to contact me via email for more, if you would like. k

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

Chiropractor for adolescent scoliosis?

Sept 2007

I am looking for a chiropractor experienced in treating adolescent idiopathic scoliosis in Walnut Creek area. Rasa

Caution! Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is a potentially serious (and crippling) condition and needs to be evaluated and treated by a specialist. The proper specialist for such is an orthopedic surgeon with special training in scoliosis. Many teenagers, if the condition is treated (properly) early, can avoid the extensive surgery which is often needed in adulthood if the condition has not been arrested in time. Dr. Peter Slabaugh, in Oakland, treated my own daughter and is one of the best specialists for scoliosis in the Bay Area. This condition is not one which should be handled by a chiropractor. Robert A. Fink, M.D.

I obviously can't add more than what the doctor said in response to this - he had obviously sound and learned advice. But I was flabberghasted that this was even a topic and thought, hey, let's reiterate how serious scoliosis IS. Because a lot of people on this board seem to have a mistrust of doctors and will try all sorts of weird alternative medicines - which is fine, I guess, for certain conditions, but NOT SCOLIOSIS.

You are doing your child a GRAVE injustice by not having an orthopedic specialist treat him/her for his/her spinal curvature. I'm not a doctor - I'm a woman who's now 40 that had scoliosis diagnosed basically at birth because both my parents had it. So did my brother. But I got the doozy. My scoliosis didn't seem so bad when I was say 10, or the casual onlooker. But as I grew, my spine twisted and curved more. My parents knew I should have surgery - but they kept postponing it(reasons will be stated later), and hoping swimming would fix it, and then a back brace...and then a weird machine that shocked my muscles at night and was supposed to make the spine grow straight. Sometimes those things can work for scoliosis, but sometimes they don't. In my case, they didn't.

When I was a junior in college, I couldn't wait anymore. I had an internship in a 9 to 5 job and my back was numbing up all the time. It freaked me out. I went to a doctor in Boston and was informed that in 5 years I'd be in a wheelchair because my scoliosis was progressing. Shortly after that, I'd have respiratory problems because my spine would start crushing my lungs. So the next year I had major surgery - my spine was fused, and 2 rods were put in it. It wasn't fun, it was painful and I had to learn to walk again, but I did get taller - losing some of the curve stretched my spine. Now I am basically fine, but I still have a curvature - my curve was just too bad; I probably should have had the surgery earlier. But the real reason I didn't have it earlier is because my PARENTS didn't want me to because they wanted to try everything BUT the surgery the doctors were recommending so that my competitive swimming career would be extended (I was good - really good - and god for! bid we mess up THAT for the sake of something permanent like a back). I'd be taller now and have less of a lingering curve if my parents had just followed the doctor's recommendations in the first place, and not messed around.

So if the doctor's advice didn't scare you straight - maybe my experience will. Don't mess around with your kid's back. GO TO A DOCTOR - not a chiropractor. I'd NEVER let a chiropractor touch my back. EVER. --I set off metal detectors, but I can still breathe and don't have a wheelchair

i didn't see the original post, but just doctor fink's.

i applaud you for seeking alternative concepts for your daughter's care. there are other western countries that don't automatically send kids to surgeons, they send them to clinics where they get intense exercise, education, physical therapy and body work.

i was diagnosed with adolescent scoliosis at 12 or 13. the docs wanted to do a brace, and basically my mom blew it off because we moved to piedmont from the midwest and she didn't want me to start a new school with a brace on. i don't know if that would have made a difference.

i have tried all different kinds of things on my back, and then i found rolfing. big change in my life experience. and then i found a physical therapist who has created this whole system with the spine. and then those two worked together on me. pretty amazing stuff.

ida rolf created her system because her son had scoliosis. the rolfer i found is very gentle and nurturing, and the best body worker i've ever been treated by. and i think she had worked on an adolescent before. i wish i had been treated be her as an adolescent. rolfer: susan solari 510-225-5305

pt: john king at sports and orthopaedic specialists best of luck to you. julia

I was diagnosed with scoliosis by a chiropractor at 40 years of age--something never picked up by other doctors nor pediatricians. I saw the X-ray, so it was real--I had a 15 degree curve. After 3 months of chiropractic treatment, my curve was reduced to 7 degrees (I saw my X-rays overlay each other). My point here is that there have been some strong opinions shared about this topic and I think an individual (or their health care advocate) needs to research options--definitely before choosing surgery! I my case, chiropractic care was effective. b

I think that you should take dr fink's suggestion seriously and have your child's scoliosis monitored by an ortheopedic specialist specializing in scoliosis. As a pilates practitioner who works both on adults and children with scoliosis- trying to balance the musculature- i would like to emphasize that the causes of scoliosis are much debated (have been to a conference on the topic ) and it can involve surgery if severe. i would feel very uncomfortable having a such a young client if he or she was not being monitored. Something you need to bear in mind is that with scoliosis the bones can become shaped differently from one side to another and you need a doctor with x-rays to diagnose and distinguish between functional scoliosis and structural scoliosis. I have to really wonder if having your spine adjusted would help with this- when you have smaller bones on one side and larger on the other? A curious thing i learned is that scoliosis (besides its genetic conponent) is particularly prevalent in dancers and gymnasts- leading to questions and conjecture about too much flexibility being possibly a contribution cause. I think I have helped a lot of people with scoliosis to feel more confortable, but where it is structural it can't be changed. the best i can hope for is to help prevent it from progressing- and even this is an area where there is not much research. I try to balance the muscles enough so that the person no longer feels the discomfort it may be causing. Generally, i notice that clients with scoliosis have really weak erector spinae, and need to work one side of the body differently from the other so i start by doing a drawing of that person's body and mapping the imbalances so I can work that person very specifically where needed. Beware of any health practitioner who claims they can cure scoliosis. i am glad to answer questions (510-508-1408) but i do think your first step should be to find the appropriate doctor to monitor your child before you start looking for alternative therapies. andrea

I'm sorry to have missed your post, but I've read the previous responses and would like to share my experience. I was diagnosed with ''moderate'' scoliosis in my teens and received nonsurgical treatment (traction, brace) until I reached 18. At that point I was told my curve would remain stable during adulthood and no further treatment was needed. I didn't have any scoliosis-related back pain in my 20s, but in my early 30s I decided to start monitoring my curve again. At that time, as my curve appeared to be increasing, a specialist strongly recommended surgery to stabilize the curve, otherwise later on in life I could have ''respiratory failure, etc.'' He even questioned whether I could have a successful pregnancy, blah, blah, blah (by the way I had my first child last year with no complications whatsoever). Any way, after learning the risks such surgery entails, and given the fact I was in no pain to speak of, I decided to put of the surgery, but continue to have monitoring x-rays every year or two.

I also decided to begin chiropractic treatment, not as a ''cure'' but to prevent further curve increases or mitigate any future discomfort. After 10 years of chiropractic treatment, my curve has increased slightly, and still looks like a capital ''S'', but more importantly, I've been able to manage the symptoms, so I\x92m glad I didn\x92t choose surgery. Of course, each case is different, I have never had ''back numbing'' or serious pain, and surgery was recommended to me in my late 20s and not in my teens. But it is also true this surgery is very serious, requires a long postop period and has risks (infection, future corrective surgeries, ''rod snapping'', yes I've seen the x-rays\x85).

So, if you can wait a couple of years, you may want to give chiropractic or other alternatives, such as rolfing, a try, and see whether they work for your daughter. You can always go for the surgery if these don't work for you within a reasonable amount of time. By the way, my chiropractor is very conscientious and has very reasonable fees. His name is Robert Townsend with Community Chiropractic in Oakland and can be reached at 510)708-9363. Best of luck.

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