Skip to main content Skip to main content

So... Your Child Has Scoliosis?

Also known as: Spinal Curvature, Kyphoscoliosis

Featured Image
Featured Image

What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is when the vertebrae (the small bones in the spine) form a curved line instead of being straight. Sometimes they also rotate (twist), like a corkscrew. This can cause health problems.

Although the spine is sometimes called "the backbone," it's not just one bone. It's made of lots of small bones (called vertebrae) that are connected by a type of elastic tissue called cartilage. This gives people the flexibility to bend, stretch, balance, and even walk.

Small curves usually don't cause problems. But a curve that gets worse can be bad for a person's health. Health care providers treat scoliosis with back braces or surgery when needed. 

piggy back ride

Types of Scoliosis

Orthopedic specialists (doctors and other providers who treat bone and muscle problems) group scoliosis into types. Knowing the type of scoliosis helps health care providers treat it.

  • Idiopathic scoliosis. This is the most common type of scoliosis. Kids can get it at any age, but most of the time it happens around puberty when a child goes through a growth spurt. Experts don't know exactly why this type of scoliosis develops, but it runs in some families.
  • Congenital scoliosis. This type of scoliosis happens when something goes wrong with the way some of the vertebrae developed while a baby was in the womb. The problem might not be noticed until a child goes through a growth spurt, usually around age 2 or between 8 and 13.
  • Scoliosis caused by a medical condition. Some kids develop scoliosis because they have a long-term medical problem that affects the muscles or skeletal system. For example, kids with muscular dystrophycerebral palsyMarfan syndrome, or osteogenesis imperfecta may get scoliosis. Kids who have had tumors or growths on their spine may also develop scoliosis.

How Is Scoliosis Treated?

Small curves usually don't cause problems. But a curve that gets worse can be bad for a person's health. Very large curves can damage the joints and cause arthritis of the spine. Large curves can make the ribs rub against the pelvis, causing pain. Someone whose spine curves a lot might get lung problems.

If it looks like scoliosis could cause health problems, doctors will treat it with a back brace to prevent it from getting worse. In some cases, kids need surgery.

Facts about Scoliosis

Best in Class
Best Patient Experience
95% of our families would recommend our providers and clinic
Convenient Access
Convenient Access
Same day appointments, 6 locations, telehealth (coming soon)
Excellent Outcomes
Excellent Outcomes
55% of patients report no disease-related limitations
skeletal dysplasia
144
Skeletal dysplasia patients from 10 states
spinal surgeries
117
Spinal Surgeries in the past year
Top 50 ortho hospitals
Top 50
US News - Top 50 Orthopedic Hospitals for past 2 years

Some of the Treatments for Scoliosis


Scoliosis Treatments

Treatment of scoliosis varies based on your child's age and the severity of the spinal curve. Through Akron Children's Spine Program, we offer the latest innovations in scoliosis treatment tailored to your child's specific needs.

Infants and toddlers

At Akron Children’s, scoliosis in infants and toddlers has been treated with Mehta casts with excellent results. Over a year-long period, your child will be placed in a cast that is changed every 6-12 weeks, depending on their growth. The casts are waterproof, making it easier for you to bathe your child. Once the casting process is complete and your child’s curvature is corrected, a brace will be used to keep the spine in alignment as your child grows.

School-age children

Bracing is frequently used in children ages 5-9. A brace will not typically cure your child’s spine deformity, but it can prevent the curve from increasing.

If your child’s curvature worsens before age 10, the spine may not be large enough to allow a definitive spinal fusion, and we may recommend surgery before your child reaches adolescence. In this case, magnetic growth rods or Shilla implants can be used, depending on your child’s condition. These medical devices encourage continued growth of the spine, while controlling or correcting your child’s spinal curve.

Adolescents and teens

Bracing may be an option for your tween or teen with scoliosis, preventing curve progression 75% of the time. We also offer an innovative form of physical therapy known as the Schroth Method that can optimize your child’s function and may be able to improve bracing’s effectiveness to stop or slow your child’s curve progression and prevent further spinal deformity. The Schroth Method is typically used in children ages 9-17.

If surgery is necessary, our orthopedic surgeons will perform a procedure that corrects the spinal deformity and prevents recurrence of the deformity in adulthood. This is called a spinal fusion and helps prevent long term impacts of a curve’s indefinite progression later in life. The surgeon uses metal rods and screws to correct the spine and keep it straight while it heals.

Akron Children’s spinal surgeons prioritize safety and quality. Complex cases are simplified with the use of the innovative O-Arm Surgical Imaging System. This system uses 3D imaging and navigation in real-time to guide surgeons in performing procedures with a higher degree of precision and safety. By using innovative surgical techniques and routinely performing procedures with two attending surgeons, our orthopedic surgeons are able to perform complex procedures safely and efficiently, reducing blood loss and surgical time, which enables excellent outcomes and expedited recovery. This focus on quality and safety enables your teen to return to the activities they love most.

After a spinal fusion, your teen should be able to ease into activities with some restrictions by 3 months, with a full return to activities by 6 months.


Related Videos


Mehta casting in infants and toddlers

Although Mehta casting is not a new technique for treating early-onset scoliosis in infants and toddlers, it has been shown to be very effective, particularly in correcting moderate scoliosis. The spine surgeons at Akron Children’s are specially trained in this casting technique, which was developed more than 50 years ago by British orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Min Mehta.

The process

Mehta casting allows for gentle, permanent correction of your child’s infantile scoliosis without surgery. If the curve of your child’s spine is more severe, Mehta casting may also be a good option to improve your child’s curve and delay surgery until your child is older.

Your child will be placed in the Mehta cast for one year. The cast will be changed every 6-12 weeks as your child grows. The first 2 years are a time of rapid growth for children, so the Mehta cast works by helping the spine straighten as it grows. This is also why early detection and treatment of infantile scoliosis are so important. 

To make the process easier and more comfortable for your child, the cast is applied under general anesthesia. Special garments and padding will also be placed under the cast to keep your child as comfortable as possible. Akron Children’s is the only Northeast Ohio hospital that uses waterproof casts, which make it more convenient for you to bathe your child. 

Once the curvature of your child’s spine is corrected, a brace will be used to make sure the spine stays in alignment as your child continues to grow.

Schroth Method

The Schroth Method is an innovative form of physical therapy that can improve your child’s spinal deformity without surgery. At Akron Children’s, it is typically used with children ages 9-17.

The physical therapists of our Spine Program are among just a few in the state who are specially trained in this method. If your child’s spinal deformity can benefit from this treatment, our physical therapists will develop a customized plan for your child. The exercises usually take 30 minutes a day.

The exercises used in the Schroth Method help the curved spine return to a more natural position by focusing on core strengthening. Sometimes used in combination with bracing, the Schroth Method can help improve the brace’s effectiveness in stopping or slowing your child’s curve progression to prevent further spinal deformity. 

The Schroth Method works by strengthening weak muscles in the back to help achieve greater muscular symmetry. It also emphasizes a special breathing technique that helps to rotate the spine and reshape the rib cage and surrounding soft tissue. The Schroth Method will also help your child become more aware of their posture, so they can change positions to reduce the spine’s curvature.


Meet Some of Our Patients



Akron Children's Hospital Locations


Considine Professional Building
215 West Bowery Street
Suite 7200
Akron, Ohio 44308
Phone: 330-543-3500
Fax: 330-543-5001
More about this location...
Map & Directions

Bowery Deck Parking Lot

Parking at Bowery Deck Parking Lot
199 W. Bowery St.
Akron, OH 44308
Parking Info & Map

Beeghly Building A main entrance
6505 Market Street
Building A
Boardman, Ohio 44512
Phone: 330-746-8070
Fax: 330-729-1946
More about this location...
Map & Directions

Akron Children's Health Center, Boston Heights
328 East Hines Hill Road
Boston Heights, Ohio 44236
Appointments: 330-543-3500
More about this location...
Map & Directions

Akron Children's Health Center, Mansfield
1029 South Trimble Road
Mansfield, Ohio 44906
Phone: 419-521-2900
Appointments: 330-543-3500
More about this location...
Map & Directions

medina specialties door 1
3443 Medina Road
Door 1 (Suite 108)
Medina, Ohio 44256
Phone: 330-722-2468
Appointments: 330-543-3500
More about this location...
Map & Directions

Akron Children's Health Center, North Canton
6076 Whipple Avenue Northwest
North Canton, Ohio 44720
Appointments: 330-543-3500
More about this location...
Map & Directions

Subspecialty Building At Fisher-Titus
282 Benedict Avenue
Norwalk, Ohio 44857
Appointments: 330-543-3500
More about this location...
Map & Directions

5000 E. Market St, Warren
5000 East Market Street
Suite 29
Warren, Ohio 44484
Phone: 330-856-8000
Appointments: 330-746-8070
More about this location...
Map & Directions


Providers Who Treat This Condition


Todd Ritzman, MD

Chair, Department of Orthopedic Surgery; Director, Spine Program; Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon

Kenneth Bono, MD

Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon

Lorena Floccari, MD

Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon; Research Director, Spine Program