Non-Invasive Treatment Options for Moderate to Severe Scoliosis

Dr. Clayton J Stitzel
Dr. Clayton J. Stitzel
Last updated on
December 29, 2021

If your child has moderate or severe scoliosis, it may seem like it's too late to correct the scoliosis curve without drastic measures like surgery or bracing. Many parents of children with moderate or severe idiopathic scoliosis feel like they have few options.

Outdated scoliosis brace protocols rob kids of their childhood. Kids generally don't even wear the back brace more than 10% of the recommended time. Those who do report lifelong physical and psychological scars and trauma from the experience.

Doctors often recommend  surgery for severe scoliosis.  Severe scoliosis is generally considered 50 degrees or more, however, vertebral body tethering may be recommended at 40 degree, 45 degree scoliosis or even 49 degree scoliosis depending on the patient’s stage of  skeletal growth.  All scoliosis surgery is very invasive and spinal fusion has a high rate of long-term complications. 

Parents and patients are demanding new and better scoliosis treatment options.

"Patients with moderate and severe scoliosis now have less invasive options than back braces or fusion surgery."

- Clayton J. Stitzel DC

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The difference between mild, moderate, and severe scoliosis

More than 80 percent of scoliosis cases are idiopathic, meaning of unknown cause. In its early stages, the condition is "mild" because the curvature is less than 25 degrees of scoliosis. A person of any age may have "early stage scoliosis".  Mild moderate scoliosis is if the condition progresses and the spine curve reaches 25-50 degrees. Curves measuring over 50 degrees are severe scoliosis curves. Patients with 70 degree scoliosis to 80 degree scoliosis curve may begin to experience a decrease in lung volume.  Get free recommendations on how to avoid scoliosis surgery sent to your email.

Back bracing and surgery are invasive treatment options

Scoliosis bracing will likely be recommended if your child has moderate scoliosis. Scoliosis braces are only attempting to treat the curve, not the scoliosis condition itself. Also, it often causes muscle degeneration and pain, as well as psychological stress. 

Scoliosis is detected in children ages 9-14, although it may start earlier. Your child could have moderate scoliosis before the condition is discovered.  Unfortunately, many mild curves often go unnoticed. So, a doctor may recommend your child wear a hard brace 23 hours a day before you have the time to research scoliosis treatment options!  Some scoliosis specialist have started recommending back braces for adult in hopes it will reduce scoliosis pain.

Scoliosis spinal fusion surgery may be recommended when a curve is severe. The recommendation for surgery is only a guideline and is often subjective. This is a major concern for parents and patients making decisions about scoliosis treatment. Surgery is primarily intended for cosmetic improvement.  Even a very severe curve is rarely life-threatening.  

Unfortunately, surgery has many long-term complications. Many people don't experience scoliosis pain until many years after surgery. That's one of many reasons ScoliSMART doctors don't recommend scoliosis surgery unless all non-invasive treatment options have failed to stop the spine curve.

Getting to the root cause of moderate to severe scoliosis

Although idiopathic scoliosis means "having no known cause", we know that the condition is linked to genetic variants. These variants act like "scratches" on the genetic record.  The result are hormone and neurotransmitter imbalances during adolescent growth spurts. This inability to keep up with the pace of growth creates an incorrect "posture memory" causing the scoliosis curve.

Scoliosis BootCamp stops scoliosis progression

We have the greatest success with the ScoliSMART approach before curves reach 30 degrees.  Scoliosis curve progression skyrockets at that point.  Yet, our Scoliosis Boot Camp programs help people of all ages with curves of all severity. During our 5 to 10 day programs, we create a unique treatment plan for kids and adults with scoliosis. 

The goal of individual programs is to:

  • Stabilize the existing curve
  • Create positive momentum in the right direction
  • Teach the patient how to do scoliosis exercises effectively on their own
  • Reduce the scoliosis curvature 
  • Provide the patient with a home scoliosis rehab plan for long lasting results

Our specialized equipment and exercises reduce the rigidity of scoliosis so you or your child's curve is more flexible. This pain free process allows us to untwist the spine and reduce its curve. Scoliosis exercises that create new posture memory are the most important aspect of your child's treatment. This is a key part of long-term scoliosis treatment results.

Your child deserves a more modern approach for treating scoliosis.

We urge you to consider all of your options before accepting a recommendation of bracing or surgery. 

Stiff scoliosis braces lead to muscle deterioration and rapid scoliosis progression once that treatment ends. (Your child cannot wear a brace forever.) 

Spinal surgery is risky and causes long-term pain, as well as complications because it doesn't "cure" scoliosis. 

Talk to a ScoliSMART doctor about reducing your child's scoliosis curve without painful, invasive treatment. You both deserve a better way to treat scoliosis.

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

Understanding Moderate Vs Severe Scoliosis

Adolescent scoliosis is one of those tricky conditions that can evade detection for a long time after it develops. Its subtle symptoms are often dismissed until a rapid growth phase causes the spine’s abnormal curve to suddenly worsen.

Even then, scoliosis can continue to fly under the radar while the curve progresses. In one study, patients with moderate to severe scoliosis went undiagnosed more than 10 percent of the time.

Difference between Moderate Vs Severe Scoliosis

Normally, a doctor would begin monitoring the curve while it’s still mild and recommend taking action only after the condition reaches the moderate threshold. If the curve becomes severe while the child’s spine is still growing, surgery might be suggested. But for parents of children whose scoliosis isn’t detected until it has already become moderate or severe, the shock of the initial diagnosis might immediately be followed by pressure to put their children in an around-the-clock back brace or consider highly invasive spinal fusion surgery.

Parents whose heads are still reeling from a diagnosis of severe or moderate scoliosis — as well as those who have watched helplessly while their children’s spines rapidly deteriorated — need to understand that bracing and surgery aren’t the only options for treating moderate to severe curves. In fact, it bears repeating:

It’s not too late to treat your child’s scoliosis without resorting to bracing or surgery.

What is Moderate Scoliosis?

Once a scoliosis curve has reached the 25-40 degree range, it’s considered moderate. Moderate scoliosis treatment usually involves wearing a rigid brace that forces the spine back into alignment in an attempt to prevent the curve from progressing further.

If it sounds like a drastic treatment option, that’s because it is. Bracing can be traumatic and painful for a growing teen — and what’s worse, it’s a cosmetic fix that often fails to prevent severe scoliosis from developing.

What is Severe Scoliosis?

A curve measuring over 40 degrees qualifies as severe scoliosis. This is when many doctors will urge parents to consider spinal fusion surgery, a highly invasive procedure that poses many risks, rarely achieves any long-term improvement, and usually leaves patients with a poorer quality of life than that with which they started.

Many parents who consent to surgery do so because they feel they have no other option. But severe scoliosis treatment doesn’t have to involve surgically altering your child’s spine. In fact, there are cutting-edge treatment options that have proven more effective than both bracing and surgery at halting scoliosis progression and reducing spinal curvature.

Moderate to Severe Scoliosis Treatment

A curve measuring over 40 degrees qualifies as severe scoliosis. This is when many doctors will urge parents to consider spinal fusion surgery, a highly invasive procedure that poses many risks, rarely achieves any long-term improvement, and usually leaves patients with a poorer quality of life than that with which they started.

One of the problems with bracing and surgery is that they attempt to correct the main symptom of scoliosis — the curve — rather than addressing the underlying factors that propel the condition.

While scientists don’t know what initially causes scoliosis to develop, we do know what causes it to progress. The problem stems from a miscommunication between the brain and the muscles that support the spine. When these signals misfire, the body fails to correct the spine’s postural imbalance and the curve continues to advance.

Through unique exercises, nutritional support and a combination of other treatments, ScoliSMART’s neuromuscular retraining program helps patients with even severe or moderate scoliosis create new muscle memory and permanently reduce their curvature. The weeklong program aims to:

  • Stabilize and reduce the spinal curve
  • Reduce soft tissue resistance
  • Reposition the spinal column
  • Reprogram the brain’s muscle control centers

Although the program works best when scoliosis is detected early, it can still have a significant impact on severe or moderate scoliosis. Treatment doesn’t have to be painful or invasive, regardless of how advanced your child’s curve is. Contact ScoliSMART today to learn more about stopping scoliosis in its tracks.

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

34 w 119th st
New York, New York 10026