Scoliosis care in North Texas

The spine specialists at Medical City Healthcare can diagnose and treat pediatric and adult scoliosis. Our hospital offers the latest technologies, including robot-assisted treatment methods. This enables us to provide minimally invasive care and help you maintain a high quality of life.

Find a scoliosis expert in the Greater Dallas-Fort Worth area.

We personalize scoliosis treatment based on many factors, such as your age. In children, the goal is to stop the progression of curves. In adults, the goal is to decrease pain and preserve spine function.

Treatment options for scoliosis include:

  • Observation for smaller curves
  • Bracing to prevent moderate-to-large curves from getting bigger
  • Surgery for large curves
  • Surgery for curves accompanied by disc degeneration, arthritis or spinal stenosis

Common questions about scoliosis

Need more info about scoliosis care? Review these common questions about treatment and diagnosis. The answers can help prepare your child for treatment.

When does a child develop scoliosis?

Most children with scoliosis are 10 years old or older. In girls, curves usually appear between between 10 and 13 years old. Boys have growth spurts later than girls, so the curves generally occur between 12 and 14 years old.

Is scoliosis painful?

In general, most children with scoliosis don’t have back pain or weakness. If your child is experiencing back pain, another spine issue may be causing it.

When is scoliosis surgery needed?

Your doctor will recommend scoliosis surgery based on the spine's curve. For example, if your child has a curve that's going to be problematic in adulthood, your spine doctor may recommend surgery.

Surgery should generally take place when a child’s curve reaches 50 degrees. The majority of curves greater than 50 degrees tend to grow larger in adulthood. If a curve is less than 50 degrees, surgery usually isn't recommended for a child.

Types of scoliosis treated at Medical City Healthcare

Scoliosis is an abnormal curve of the spine. On X-rays, the spine looks like an “S” or “C” instead of a straight line. Idiopathic scoliosis, which means the cause is unknown, affects all age groups. This condition is named for the age when a diagnosis is made:

  • Infantile idiopathic scoliosis (birth to three years old)
  • Juvenile idiopathic scoliosis (four to 10 years old)
  • Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (11 to 18 years old)
  • Adult idiopathic scoliosis (18 years old or older)

Scoliosis diagnosed in children who are 10 years old or younger is also called "early onset scoliosis."

The spine doctors available through our orthopedic program also treat scoliosis linked to:

  • Arthritis and aging
  • Birth defects
  • Genetic conditions
  • Abnormal rounding of the upper back (kyphosis)
  • Neuromuscular diseases, such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy
  • Spinal injuries or infections

Symptoms of pediatric scoliosis

There usually aren’t many symptoms of scoliosis in children. However, you may notice:

  • Hip asymmetry
  • Spine asymmetry
  • Chest rib prominence (when one rib is higher than the other)
  • Difference in waist creases (one side dips more than the other)

The lack of symptoms is why a school screening program for scoliosis exists. During a school screening, a spine specialist can detect curves before they become noticeable.

Symptoms of adult degenerative scoliosis

Scoliosis is usually diagnosed and treated during childhood and adolescence. However, the spine specialists at our hospitals can also treat adult scoliosis. This specialized care is available thanks to advanced surgical techniques, tools and technology.

Degenerative adult scoliosis happens over time. Progressive degeneration can lead to an incorrect alignment of the spinal column. Like other types of scoliosis, physical change is the most obvious sign of this condition.

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Scoliosis treatment options

Your scoliosis treatment options depend on the degree of the curve and when it's detected. Following a diagnosis, your doctor will explain which options are best for your child.

Scoliosis braces

Braces aren't an alternative to surgery and won't fix a large curve. However, they can control the growth of the spine as a child ages. A brace can keep the curve from increasing, thus preventing the need for surgery.

Candidates for scoliosis braces

Children fitted for braces must have a curve that is 25 to 30 degrees or greater. They must also have at least one year of remaining skeletal growth.

Wearing a scoliosis brace

Spine doctors generally recommend a full-time brace program. The patient should remove the brace only for sports or for showering. Children wear the brace under their clothes during the day and sleep in it at night. If the patient doesn't wear the brace full-time, it probably won't control the growth of the spine.

Pediatric scoliosis surgery

Scoliosis surgery for adolescents involves taking bones that are starting to grow crooked and making them straight so they can heal together. Most pediatric patients are out of the hospital within three to four days with no postoperative brace immobilization. Most children can return to school within four weeks, non-contact sports within three months and full-contact sports within six months.

Complex spine surgery

Orthopedic doctors perform complex spine surgery for conditions that are difficult to treat, such as:

  • Adult and pediatric scoliosis
  • Spine fractures
  • Spine tumors

This type of surgery may also be used to correct a previous surgery or in cases that include more than three spinal segments (levels).

Scoliosis screening

Because children with scoliosis rarely have pain, the condition is often first detected by a parent or through a school screening. Initial screenings for scoliosis include visual exams and physical exams. X-rays are typically the next step to confirm diagnosis.

Evaluation for adult scoliosis can include a physical exam. A physician will compare shoulder and waist height. They will also check for uneven shoulder blades and uneven ribs. Imaging evaluation may also include X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. These advanced scans are especially important for patients with significant pain.

Children and adults with any symptoms of scoliosis should be screened immediately. Scoliosis can lead to severe complications if left untreated, including:

  • Worsening physical changes, such as curves increasing
  • Chronic back pain, numbness and shooting pain in the legs
  • Lung damage, making it difficult to breathe
  • Heart damage

Scoliosis school screening

School screening helps identify children who need a scoliosis brace. It also gives spine specialists a chance to find curves that aren't visible. Screening usually happens between fifth and ninth grade.