Ask the Expert: Scoliosis

Dr. Daniel Green, pediatric orthopedic surgeon

In this week’s installment of Ask the Expert, Dr. Daniel Green, Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon, answers questions on scoliosis.

Q1. What is scoliosis?

Scoliosis causes the spine to curve sideways to varying degrees in an “S” or “C” shape. It can cause the bones of the spine to turn so that one part of the body, such as a shoulder or hip, looks to be higher than the other. Scoliosis can occur at any age, and can also run in families if the case happens to be known.

Q2. Are there different types of scoliosis?

Yes, there are three different forms of scoliosis. The most common type is known as idiopathic scoliosis. Idiopathic means that there is no known cause for this condition. In the case of adolescents, the spine is curved in one or more planes. Neuromuscular scoliosis comes as a result of abnormalities of the muscle-nerve pathways of the body, and is regarded to be highly severe in non-ambulatory patients. Examples include cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, and paralysis. Lastly, congenital scoliosis comes from the result of the improper vertebrae formation. This form of scoliosis is often present at birth.

Q3. Who is at high risk?

When it comes to scoliosis, it can occur in all age groups. However, adolescent idiopathic scoliosis happens to be found more frequently among girls than boys. It is commonly diagnosed in girls between the ages of 10 to 15 as they are more likely to have a progressive curve that will require treatment.

Q4. What are your recommendations for prevention?

Early diagnosis can lead to effective brace treatment, which has been shown to help control the progression of scoliosis in a significant percentage of patients. When it comes to bracing, it aims to prevent the existing curves from the possibility of getting worse. It can be effective if the patient is still growing and the spinal curvature falls between the range of 25 and 45 degrees. If the curve exceeds 45 degrees, surgery is often recommended, especially if the patient is still growing.

Q5. Is there any ongoing research pertaining to scoliosis?

Hospital for Special Surgery has one of the largest collections of surgeons who are active members of the prestigious Scoliosis Research Society. HSS is proud to have one of the oldest and strongest groups of scoliosis experts in the country. Our Scoliosis Service here at HSS offer patients the most advanced care and treatment, and surgeons within this service are members of the Spine Care Institute at HSS, which aims to bring all aspects of scoliosis and spine care to our patients.


Dr. Daniel Green specializes in Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery at Hospital for Special Surgery. He is currently director of the pediatric sports program for the Division of Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery at HSS. Dr. Green’s focus is to provide the finest, most advanced orthopedic care available, with expertise in areas such as pediatric sports injuries, pediatric fractures, and dislocations.

The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.


  1. I am a 13 going 14 year old female. I have scoliosis. These were the findings of my scoliosis on March 3, 2015, which was my last screening: 19 degrees of right curvature from T8 through L2 with no appreciable pelvic tilt. The iliac crest apophyses are not fused. No heminvertebrae or cervical rib is present. Well my physician prescribed me to get a brace. I did. (But brace was prescribed sometime towards the end of April or May) I was suppose to wear the brace to sleep every night. I did that for a week and half. And then I just started wearing it once in awhile. Now it is August 26 and I have pain in my mid to lower back area. It hurts the most when I bend to the left or to back towards the left. Where the pain is, it feels fleshy, like tissue or muscle. So what I wanted to know having giving you all that information is that the pain I am experiencing is it a pulled/strained muscle or tissue or is it actual pain of my back bone? If I have any of these two or others situations with my back what kind of treatment will I need?

  2. hello doctor,i’m a sixteen year old girl with scolioses i was diagnosed with scolioses when i was 12-13years old, i have been wearing a back brace for 2years and a half now,when i had my first xray the curve of the spine was 34″ but it dicreased by 5″ in year and half period of time the brace is making my skin really irritated and creates scars on my sides and underneath my armpits , sometimes i feel the circulation stopping in arm because the brace’s sides are high , the doctor i consulted told me to wear the brace until i become 18, is there a possibility that ican take off the brace and try other things to heal my scolioses ? i am looking forward to your reply

  3. My daughter, who is seven years old just got diagnosed with scoliosis. She has a 14 degree curve in her thoracic region and 16degree curve on her lumbar spine with exaggeration of lumbar lordosis. I don’t want to wait to start treating her until her curve reaches 25 degrees. What do you think would bethe appropriate treatment for her?

    1. Hi Nergis, thanks for reaching out. Dr. Roger Widmann, Orthopedic Surgeon, says “A 2nd opinion from a pediatric spinal surgeon is recommended. There have been several research studies that have shown a difference of 5 degrees in a scoliosis curve to be dependent on the measurer. If a 7 year old truly has scoliosis, an MRI is usually recommended to rule out any intra-spinal anomalies that may be the cause of the curve. If the curve is diagnosed to be idiopathic in nature, meaning there are no spinal cord problems and the cause of the curve is unknown, then evidence has shown that bracing can be highly effective for preventing progression of curves measuring 25-45 degrees. The research does not support evidence that a brace prevents progression of an idiopathic curve under 25 degrees.” If you wish to receive care at HSS, please contact our Physician Referral Service at 877-606-1555 for further assistance.

  4. I have rather severe scoliosis and am experiencing neck pain as well as bursitis.
    I read about Schroth therapy. I am 77 years old. What would you advise? Thank you in advance. Sincerely, Marina Passloff

  5. Good day to you. I do not know if this is the right place to post this question but I am a 33 year old female, not an American who has scoliosis. Am I too old to do the surgery? Is it possible to have you do this surgery? What’s the cost? Please reply.

If you’d like to consider HSS for treatment, please contact our Patient Referral Service at 888-720-1982. For general questions and comments, reach us on Facebook or Twitter.