Treatment Options

Accurate assessment of your Scoliosis by Scoliosis Specialists will ensure you receive the right treatment option for your curve.

Mild Curve Less than 20-25º

Non-Surgical Treatments

For mild curves measuring less than 20-25º treatment options may involve a combination of observation and monitoring, and occasional physical therapy recommendations. Your scoliosis specialist will need to determine if the curve is progressing or worsening, or if the curve is stable and unchanging.

Your patient journey

Observation & Monitoring

Periodic observation and monitoring is usually the first method of treatment for Scoliosis Curves less than 20-25º .

  • You will visit your Scoliosis Specialist every four to six months.
  • X-rays or EOS scans will be taken regularly and reviewed against previous films.
  • The specialist will document changes and make recommendations for treatments as necessary.
  • You may be referred to other specialists to make sure there are no other problems in other parts of the body.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapies may be useful to help strengthen core muscles and manage pain.

Physical therapy (specifically designed – Schroth Method) or some chiropractic therapies have some scientifically proven benefits seen to slow curve progression. They can help strengthen your core muscles, improve general posture and even help manage any discomfort associated in some scoliosis.

Mild Curve Less than 40º

Non-Surgical Treatments

Non-surgical treatments are helpful when early detection has been made and the patient is still growing. Regular examinations by the Orthopaedic Surgeon will be required to ensure the procedural care plan is going according to schedule and to monitor the curve.


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Bracing is a non-operative treatment suitable for curves between 25 and 45º in growing children. The goal is to prevent further progression of the curve while the spine continues to grow. Bracing will not correct the curve, the ultimate goal is to avoid surgery.

scoliosis bracing

  • Suitable for mild to moderate curves.
  • Requires a cooperative patient, supportive family and regular ongoing examinations by the specialist.
  • The brace will require changing as the child grows.
  • The brace allows the child to participate in general childhood activities such as exercise, sports and dance when the physician allows an elective “time out” for the brace.
  • Physiotherapy exercises are increasingly used in conjunction with scoliosis bracing to offer advantages over more simplified treatments.


Casting is a form of bracing that cannot be removed until a scheduled change of cast. In most cases this will require anaesthesia to make the child more comfortable and to increase flexibility of the curve. The cast will need to be changed every few months as the child grows, again requiring an anaesthetic. It is usually for very young children as is quite uncommon.

Casting has been shown to delay the progression of curvatures and the need for more invasive surgery by correcting the deformity sufficiently to allow bracing to be used.

Your Orthopaedic Surgeon will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this treatment option with both the patient and carers.

Mild Curve Less than 40º

Surgical Corrections

Surgical treatment is often recommended for patients whose curves are greater than 45° while still growing, or are continuing to progress greater than 45° when growth has stopped. Surgery will only be recommended if the brace or cast treatment fails to keep the scoliosis from progressing. The goal of surgery is always to prevent the curve’s progression, to obtain some curve correction and improve the lifestyle outcomes for the patient.

Post operative care

Spine and Rib-Based Growing-Rods

This surgical technique uses a spine-based or a rib-based system where one or two rods are inserted under the skin, spanning the curve and avoiding the growth tissues of the spine.

spine and rib based growing rods

The goal of this surgical technique is to correct the curvature by approximately 50% at the time of the first operation. Following the surgery, patients will use bracing for several months. Children will return about every six months to have the rods lengthened until spinal maturity. Multiple surgeries will be involved in this treatment. Once the spine has grown, the Orthopaedic Surgeon will remove the instrumentation and perform a formal spinal fusion.

Vertebral Body Tethering (VBT) – “Fusionless” surgery

The goal of this technique is to allow the spinal curvature to correct itself through more growth on the concave side of the curve. This technique is commonly performed in patients who are still growing and whose curves are less than 35º.

The placement of special vertebral body tethers produces relative growth inhibition on the convex side of the curve, allowing the patient’s natural growth to straighten out the spine.

vertebral body tethering

Severe Curve Greater than 40-50º

Surgical Corrections

For severe curves greater than 40-50º treatment options may involve surgical correction.  If surgery is the recommended treatment for your scoliosis, the characteristics of the symptoms and the primary syndrome will determine the procedure used. Any chosen procedure will be based upon the patient’s specific case and the clinical data.

See the latest research


The goal of this surgical technique is to address abnormal growth on one side of the spine, allowing continued growth on the other side to correct the curve over time. This technique is most commonly used for patients with Congenital Scoliosis where the bones have improperly formed. Your Orthopaedic Surgeon will discuss the risks of this operation with you.

Hemivertebra Resection

This surgical treatment is an option for young children where their scoliosis presents with abnormally shaped vertebrae (triangular vs rectangular) and who present with a “trunk lean” or a much worse deformity.

The procedure removes hemivertebra(e) from the spine, allowing the vertebrae above and below the resection to be fused together, often with instrumentation. Bracing or casting also commonly accompanies this procedure while the spine heals. Your Orthopaedic Surgeon will discuss the risks of this operation with you.

In Situ Spinal Fusion

This surgical technique will address the scoliosis curve early before it worsens and becomes a severe deformity. This procedure stops the progression of scoliosis by fusing together vertebrae. In situ translates to “where it is” meaning little correction of the spine will occur. Occasionally instruments such as rods and screws may be placed to help straighten the spine and brace the bone graft.

Where instrumentation is not utilised, usually in young children, bracing or casting may accompany the surgery to provide for best outcomes for the patient as part of their patient journey. This procedure is considered safer than those that offer more correction to the spine’s curvature. Your Orthopaedic Surgeon will discuss the risks of this operation with you.

Severe Curve Greater than 40-50º

Spinal Fusion

This technique is performed to achieve permanent correction of the spine. The procedure provides permanent stabilisation by removing the joints between the vertebrae. Bone grafts are required for this procedure and will be placed where the joints were. Throughout the next four to six months, the graft will connect to the vertebral bone and form a solid block of bone.

Where the patient also a candidate for instrumentation, internal rods may also be used to ensure the corrected position is maintained while the fusion takes place over the months post-surgery.

Depending on the curve’s flexibility and any preceding treatment there may even be an additional correction of the deformity through the application of the instrumentation. The patient may also no longer require a cast or brace with the instrumentation doing the job internally.

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Anterior Open Rods:

Thoracoscopic Anterior Spinal Rod:

Latest research

can spinal deformities be prevented

Sowula, Pawel, Izatt, Maree T., Labrom, Robert D., Askin, Geoffrey N., & Little, J. Paige (2018) Progression of sagittal plane deformity and axial vertebral rotation in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis using MRI. In Freeman,...

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what does not cause scoliosis

Little, J. Paige, Rayward, Lionel, Izatt, Maree T., Pearcy, Mark J., Green, Daniel, Labrom, Robert D., & Askin, Geoffrey N. (2018) Predicting sagittal plane profile using 3D surface photography of the spine. In Adelaide...

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what causes scoliosis and what are the types of scoliosis

Askin, Geoffrey N., Izatt, Maree T., Labrom, Robert D., & Adam, Clayton J. (2017) Is spine flexibility maintained with the use of Semi-Constrained Growing Rods for early onset scoliosis in children? In 52nd Annual Scoliosis...

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