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Early Detection of Scoliosis

Before and After Spine

Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine that measures more than 10 degrees on an X-ray. Although it is not preventable, early detection and treatment can minimize the appearance of the deformity, which is usually the most concerning aspect of scoliosis for the patient.  I take my patients’ concerns very seriously even though my priority is to keep a scoliosis curve from requiring surgery. Pediatricians are a critical part of early detection as they check for scoliosis every year. Most health care providers check for scoliosis by performing the Forward Bending Test, which is when a patient is asked to bend at the waist to assess for asymmetry of the back. A scoliometer, which is similar to a level, is often used to assess for rotation of the trunk. If there is asymmetry, you will have an X-ray to evaluate if the asymmetry is caused by scoliosis.

There are some common misconceptions about scoliosis:

  • All shoulder asymmetry is caused by scoliosis
  • Scoliosis is caused by bad posture
  • Scoliosis is caused by certain exercises
  • Chiropractic work can cure scoliosis

Scoliosis is treated with a brace when a curve is between 25 and 45 degrees in a growing child. I work closely with the orthotist that makes the brace to decide on brace type and achieve the best correction for a patient. Another growing trend in treatment of scoliosis is Schroth Method physical therapy. Although there have been no studies to prove that physical therapy can treat scoliosis effectively, I am supportive of patients who want to try it as long as they comply with my recommendations as well.

Widmann 2 NOTHighRes Dr. Roger F. Widmann

Dr. Roger Widmann has been a member of the Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery Service at Hospital for Special Surgery since 1995 and the Chief of the Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery Service since 2004. He is the Director of Pediatric Orthopaedic Trauma at New York Hospital, and is a member of the Scoliosis Service at Hospital for Special Surgery.

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.