Scoliosis is a curvature of the spine that usually occurs during the growth spurt children experience just before the onset of puberty. When your child has been diagnosed with scoliosis, you want the most experienced physicians and leading-edge treatments available. 

Children's Orthopaedic specialists at University of Missouri Children's Hospital are here to determine the best course of care for your child. Depending on your child’s situation, treatment may include observation, bracing or possibly surgery. 

Scoliosis can range from mild to severe, with the most severe cases impairing proper lung function and causing back problems. Our doctors evaluate your child and develop a personalized treatment plan that works for your whole family. 

Researchers have found that the most common cause of scoliosis is genetic factors, meaning it’s passed down through families.

Symptoms of scoliosis

The symptoms of scoliosis may include:

  • One hip higher than the other hip
  • One shoulder blade more prominent than the other shoulder blade
  • Uneven shoulders
  • Uneven waist

Diagnosing scoliosis

To make an accurate diagnosis, your child’s pediatrician or primary care doctor may recommend one or more of the following tests:

  • Complete physical exam. Our doctor conducts a full physical exam, evaluating your child’s signs and symptoms related to scoliosis. A full medical history is collected from your child and your immediate family.
  • Imaging tests. Our doctor may recommend an X-ray to assess the severity of your child’s scoliosis. The doctor may use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to see if your child has an underlying condition that’s causing scoliosis. 

Scoliosis treatments we offer

In most cases, scoliosis is mild and does not require treatment. If your child has mild scoliosis, the doctor may recommend coming back every four to six months to check for progression of the condition. 

If your child has a moderate to severe form of scoliosis that requires treatment, Dr. Hoernschemeyer and his team create a customized treatment plan based on:

  • Curve pattern
  • Gender (girls have a higher risk for progression than boys)
  • Growth and maturity (if your child has completed or nearly completed growing, the risk for progression is low)
  • Location of curve
  • Severity of curve

Treatment for scoliosis may include wearing a brace or undergoing surgery. Wearing a brace will not reverse the curve, but it can usually prevent further progression. In more severe cases, the doctor may recommend surgery such as posterior spinal fusion, fusionless spine surgery and a growing rod. Learn more about the path of scoliosis surgery.

Scoliosis mentoring program

The scoliosis mentoring program at Children's Orthopaedics helps connect families of children and teens with scoliosis to provide support and share experiences. Read more about this exciting program.