Treating Early Stage (Mild) Scoliosis

Dr. Clayton J Stitzel
FACTUALLY ACCURATE & VERIFIED BY
Dr. Clayton J. Stitzel
Last updated on
October 30, 2021

Early stage (mild) scoliosis is defined by the size of a scoliosis curve, not the age of the patient. You or your child may have early stage scoliosis, or a scoliosis curve that measures less than 25 degrees.

Treating Early Stage Scoliosis Curves Stops Progression & Reduces Curvature

Girls ages 9 to 14 who have a thin, lanky body shape and have not begun menstruating make up the majority of early stage scoliosis cases. Unfortunately, all severe cases of idiopathic (of unknown cause) adolescent scoliosis begin with an early stage development.

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It's important to point out that your child's spinal curve is the most prominent symptom of scoliosis, not the cause.  Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) comes from a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental influences. Its progression is caused by miscommunication between the brain and the muscles supporting the spine. The brain's posture memory should tell your child's muscles how to respond to gravity while he or she grows to keep his or her spine straight. For reasons still not completely understood, these messages aren't sent when your child has scoliosis.

"Bigger Curves = Much Greater Chance of Progression"

- Clayton J. Stitzel DC
CEO, ScoliSMART

Not all cases of AIS advance, but the chances of progression increase as the curve increases. A spinal curve measuring up to 24 degrees is considered mild scoliosis.  These patients have the lowest risk of curve progression — a 22% probability. The probability of progression jumps to 68% once your child's spinal curve reaches 25 degrees. That statistic doesn't apply to adults. We only see the tripled risk in children whose spines are not done growing. The risk of progression further increases to over 90% when your child's curve reaches 50 degrees. That's why it's imperative to stop scoliosis in the early stages. Get free recommendations on how genetic testing is making early stage scoliosis intervention possible sent to your email.

early stage scoliosis spinal rotation

No one knows why this dramatic rate of advancement occurs. Researchers suspect it's caused by spinal rotation driven by stretching the brain and spinal cord. Scoliosis causes a 3-dimensional curve. It actually twists the spine around its own center of gravity as it progresses. This twisting causes severe torque and more lateral bending and rotation of the spine, like a twisting rubber band. We call this self-feeding loop the "coil-down effect." As the curvature increases, the twisting worsens.

A Proactive Approach for Treating Scoliosis

Many doctors tell parents to watch their child's curve for six months or a year to see if it progresses.  Rather than treat the mild scoliosis. Many health care professionals don't even consider spinal curves measuring less than 10 degrees to be scoliosis. At ScoliSMART Clinics®, we focus on the high risk patterns of the spinal curvature rather than the size of the curve.

Traditional Scoliosis Treatments (old way)

  • Abnormal spinal curvature detected to be less than 25 degrees
  • Wait for six months
  • Re-evaluate to determine if curvature is worsening or remaining stable
  • If worsening, a rigid scoliosis brace is prescribed 20+ hours daily until your child is done growing!

Early Stage Scoliosis Intervention (newer way)

Six steps for proactive treatment of mild scoliosis:

  • Abnormal spinal curvature detected to be less than 25 degrees 
  • A genetic risk assessment and neurotransmitter pattern testing performed 
  • Small Curve Camp for scoliosis (5 day in-office program)
  • Six months at-home Posture Memory retraining scoliosis exercises and nutrient therapies
  • Re-evaluate to determine scoliosis improvement and stability

Catch Early Stage Scoliosis with Home Evaluations

The treatment goal of ScoliSMART™ Early Stage Scoliosis Intervention is to keep the curve under 20 degrees during your child's growing years and at most, 25 degrees at skeletal maturity. 

Detecting scoliosis earlier is one of the most important aspects of early intervention. The most widely used scoliosis screening test, the Adam's forward bend test, often misses small curves. Your child bends forward at the waist while a doctor or school nurse looks for a bulge in the rib cage on one side, usually the right side. This bulging usually isn't obvious until the spinal curve has advanced to near 25 degrees because that's when the upper spine really begins to rotate. We call the Adam's test the "too late test."  Using scoliosis genetic testing is far more accurate and proactive. A simple home collected saliva test can determine your child's genetic risk for scoliosis.  The report even includes dietary and scoliosis supplement recommendations to lower their risk.

screening for early stage scoliosis

Other mild scoliosis signs:

  • Your child's clothes hang unevenly
  • One of your child's legs seems longer than the other
  • Your child's head has a forward posture when viewed from the side

Mild scoliosis creates asymmetrical and bad posture patterns long before the rib cage rotation is visible. You can detect these patterns by looking for an even line across your child's eyes, shoulders, and hips. Look from the front and the back.  Have your child examined if you notice any of these signs. A tool called a Scolimeter measures spinal curvature. But, x-rays taken by a scoliosis specialist are the most accurate measure of a mild curve. A 72 inch full spine standing x-ray is most ideal for scoliosis evaluation. 

Watching for these signs is especially important if scoliosis runs in your family, as it is hereditary. The more parents, gym teachers, coaches, and school nurses look for slight imbalances in these three lines, the more we will catch mild, early stage scoliosis. You may actually notice that your child's eyes, shoulders, or hips are a bit uneven, but not realize those are scoliosis indicators.

Do Not Wait and Watch Mild Scoliosis

ScoliSMART™ Clinic doctors never recommend waiting and watching. All large curves begin as small curves. Scoliosis is a chronic, progressive condition. It often progresses throughout childhood and into adulthood. We recommend starting "posture memory" retraining through the Early Stage Scoliosis Intervention. This should be started as soon as your child's curve is discovered. The 5-day "Small Curve Camp" program is followed by a home exercise program for at least 4 - 6 months. Thousands of children have had their scoliosis curve reduced and progression stopped with this approach.

Don’t know where to start?  Take our FREE “ScoliQuiz.”  (No x-ray required)

ScoliSMART Clinics is committed to treating the WHOLE scoliosis condition, not only the curve. Genetic & clinical testing with targeted nutrient therapies, expert in-office treatment programs, and the world’s only ScoliSMART Activity Suit provides patients of all ages with the most comprehensive, most effective, and least invasive treatment options available worldwide.

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Meet the ScoliSMART Doctors

Click the images below to get more information about the ScoliSMART Doctors.

Dr. Clayton J Stitzel

Dr. Clayton J. Stitzel

504 W. Orange Street
Lititz, PA 17543
Dr. Mark Morningstar

Dr. Mark Morningstar

8293 Office Park Drive
Grand Blanc, MI 48439
Dr. Brian T Dovorany

Dr. Brian T. Dovorany

26940 Aliso Viejo Parkway, Suite 105
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656
Dr. Aatif Siddiqui

Dr. Aatif Siddiqui

2 W 45th Street, Suite 404
New York, NY 10036