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Treating Early Stage (Mild) Scoliosis


Dr. Clayton J. Stitzel


January 12, 2023

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

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.

Table of Contents

It’s important to point out that your child’s spine curve is the most prominent symptom of scoliosis, not the cause. Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) comes from a combination of  and environmental influences. Its progression is caused by miscommunication between the brain and the muscles supporting the spine during times of rapid adolescent growth. 

“Bigger Curves = Much Greater Chance of Progression”

– Clayton J. Stitzel DC

Not all cases of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) advance, but the chances of progression increase as the curve increases. A spinal curve measuring up to 24 degrees is considered mild. These patients have the lowest risk of curve progression — a 22% probability. The probability of progression jumps to 68% once your child’s spine curve reaches 25 degrees and a brace may be recommended by an orthopedist. 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 it in the early stages. Get free recommendations on how genetic testing is making early stage scoliosis intervention possible sent to your email.

No one knows exactly 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 spine curves measuring less than 10 degrees to be scoliosis even if the patient has back pain. At ScoliSMART Clinics®, we focus on the high risk patterns of the curvature rather than the size of the curve. However, depending on the degree of curvature and the age of the child, doctors may recommend a physical therapy.

Traditional Scoliosis Treatment Options (old way)

  • Abnormal spine 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 brace is prescribed 20+ hours daily until your child is done growing!
  • Recommend highly invasive spinal fusion when bracing is fails to stop curve progression.

Early Stage Scoliosis Intervention (newer way)

Proactive treatment of mild scoliosis:

  • Abnormal spine curvature detected to be less than 25 degrees 
  • A , pattern, and hormone 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 curve improvement and stability

Learn about how to treat the whole scoliosis condition and not only the curve, connect with our passionate providers at ScoliSMART. To explore a non-brace/ non-surgical treatment for your child’s scoliosis problem, you may  with a ScoliSMART doctor. Please get in touch with us today!

Genetic Testing for Idiopathic Scoliosis

Idiopathic scoliosis is more than just a spine issue, according to most orthopedic specialists. It extends beyond the primary symptom of the condition, which is the curvature. In more than 80 percent of cases, the cause is unknown — a condition called idiopathic scoliosis. Doctors call this idiopathic scoliosis as there is no known cause. Idiopathic scoliosis has been shown to be hereditary by centuries of family history. It has nothing to do with a specific gene. The consequence of certain patterns of genetic mutations is idiopathic scoliosis in teens.

Genetic predispositions are now better understood, and genetic insights may be gained. However, genetic heritage is far more complicated than it may appear. In reality, a “scoliosis gene” per se does not exist. In reality, many genetic variations, or abnormalities, seem to cause the curve. They may either boost or harm genetic performance. The neuro-hormonal issues that cause idiopathic scoliosis are caused by these changes in metabolic pathways. Opportunities for the prevention may be possible with advancements in genetic identification/interpretation, clinical testing, and non-invasive metabolic treatments. It should be noted that neuromuscular scoliosis caused by muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy and congenital scoliosis (caused by vertebrae spinal deformity) are completely different cases of scoliosis, but still require bracing or spinal fusion surgery to prevent complications and deformity correction in severe scoliosis. Osteoporosis, another cause of scoliosis, can lead to spinal curvature due to bone degeneration in the torso.

Genetic Testing

Treating Scoliosis with Nutrient Therapies

Genetic testing may help us identify the most likely underlying causes of idiopathic type of scoliosis and its development. We may learn about the severity of the scoliosis patients underlying problems through targeted clinical testing.

Nutrient therapies offer the opportunity to change the natural course of idiopathic scoliosis by using this very particular information. Nutrient therapies are all natural and do not use medications help to support, rebalance, or replace neurotransmitters, hormones, and other activator molecules in scoliosis.

Patients with genetic mutations are often unable to produce enough prerequisite molecules, such as amino acids, enzyme activators, and metabolic end products that are commonly supplemented by the nutrient therapies. Most of these vital compounds aren’t able to be created by most scoliosis sufferers on their own and can even lead to degenerative scoliosis and arthritis later in life.

Lifestyle changes, such as limiting dietary gluten or dairy products, may be recommended in certain situations to aid and support the nutrient therapies. Adolescent and adult patients can benefit from genetic-guided clinical testing and non-drug nutritional therapies. It should be part of their complete treatment plan for both. The first attempt to reach the whole scoliosis condition, rather than just the spinal curve, is this new approach, which aims to address the underlying metabolic problems linked with idiopathic scoliosis.

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 deformity 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. The medical evaluation for scoliosis includes a physical exam and spinal imaging.

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.

Other mild scoliosis signs:
  • Your child’s clothes hang unevenly
  • Their pelvis may appear tilted
  • One shoulder blade appears more prominent than the other
  • One of your child’s legs seems longer than the other
  • Your child’s head has a forward position when viewed from the side
  • lower back pain and headaches my become more frequent 

Mild scoliosis creates asymmetrical and bad posture patterns before the rib cage rotation (rib hump) is visible. You can detect these patterns by looking for an even line across your child’s eyes, shoulders, and hips during a physical examination. 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 evaluation and detection of an abnormal curvature.

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 curve of the spine. You may actually notice that your child’s eyes, shoulders, or hips are a bit uneven, but not realize those are signs of scoliosis.

Online consultation scheduling is available!

Now it’s even easier to connect with ScoliSMART. Schedule your no-cost, no-obligation phone or Zoom consultation online with a ScoliSMART physician.

Do Not Wait and Watch Scoliosis Mild

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 “reflexive response” retraining through the Early Stage Scoliosis Intervention immediately. 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.

What are the symptoms of scoliosis in kids and teens?

Common symptoms of scoliosis in kids and teens include uneven shoulders, one shoulder blade that sticks out more than the other, uneven waist, leaning to one side, and an appearance of leaning to one side. It is important to get a medical evaluation if these symptoms are observed.

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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