When Does Scoliosis Develop in the Spine?

Scoliosis is a condition where the spine bends and rotates to one side, forming a C-shaped or S-shaped curve. It can affect both children and adults at any age and may persist for a lifetime. However, scoliosis is more prevalent as you age.

Approximately 2% to 3% of teenagers have scoliosis, while more than 38% of individuals over 60 years old have it. Consequently, it’s crucial to understand when scoliosis develops and how to prevent its progression. Below is a brief overview of scoliosis development and strategies to stop it.

man receiving treatment for scoliosis at Boise chiropractor
man receiving treatment for scoliosis at Boise chiropractor

The Progression Of Scoliosis

Scoliosis progression refers to the increase in the spinal curve over time, and it can vary from person to person. While some cases may remain stable, others may progress at a steady rate. Generally, curves measuring between 30 and 50 degrees on the Cobb scale tend to progress 10-15 degrees over a lifetime.

In more severe cases where the curve measures over 50 degrees, the progression rate may be around 1-2 degrees per year. It’s important to monitor scoliosis progression regularly to prevent it from worsening and causing potential complications.

Rapid onset scoliosis is a condition in which the curvature of the spine worsens quickly over time. This type of scoliosis typically occurs in adolescents during puberty when growth and development are rapid. In fact, during the first year of puberty, spinal growth is at peak velocity, making curves at their greatest risk of rapid progression.

While rapid onset scoliosis is more common in adolescents, there are cases where adults experience rapid progression. This can occur in adults who had undiagnosed scoliosis since childhood. In adults, rapid progression usually occurs later in life, as the spine begins to deteriorate with age.

At What Age Does Scoliosis Start to Develop?

Idiopathic scoliosis is the most common type of scoliosis, accounting for about 80% of all cases. This type of scoliosis has no known cause, and it usually develops during adolescence, which is why it’s also known as adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. While most cases of idiopathic scoliosis are diagnosed during adolescence, infants and young children can also develop it.

Infants under the age of three may develop infantile idiopathic scoliosis, while children between the ages of four and ten may develop juvenile idiopathic scoliosis. However, the prevalence of these types of scoliosis is much lower than adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.

It’s important to note that some cases of scoliosis, especially mild ones, may go undiagnosed during adolescence, and the diagnosis may not happen until adulthood, when the symptoms become more noticeable or painful.

Early Detection

Early detection and treatment of scoliosis are essential to manage the condition effectively. In some cases, scoliosis can progress rapidly, and delaying treatment may result in severe curvature and deformity. This can lead to a range of symptoms, including difficulty breathing, pain, and limited mobility.

In addition to regular check-ups with your doctor, there are several steps you can take to detect scoliosis early on, such as monitoring your child’s growth and posture, being aware of any changes in their physical appearance, and scheduling a scoliosis screening if you notice any signs or symptoms.

Once scoliosis is diagnosed, treatment options may include observation, bracing, physical therapy, and surgery. The treatment plan will depend on several factors, such as the age of the patient, the severity of the curve, and the rate of progression.

Overall, early detection and prompt treatment are crucial to manage scoliosis effectively and prevent it from worsening. By working with your healthcare provider and taking a proactive approach to your health, you can improve your chances of living a healthy and active life with scoliosis.

How to Keep the Curve from Worsening

There are various treatment options available to prevent the progression of scoliosis and correct the spinal curvature. However, lifestyle changes can also play a vital role in keeping your spine healthy and strong and preventing the condition from worsening. This includes:


Incorporating physical exercise into your routine can have a significant impact on managing scoliosis. The right exercises targeted towards the spine can strengthen your core and alleviate back pain. Correcting posture through exercises can also enhance body balance, leading to further reduction of back pain. Studies have indicated that patients who engage in regular physical activities respond better to treatments specific to scoliosis.

Apart from reducing pain, these exercises can also increase your flexibility and range of motion, which minimizes the pressure on your spine. However, it’s crucial to exercise caution and ensure that you perform the appropriate exercises to avoid further damaging your spine.

Ergonomics at Work and School

Maintaining proper posture is crucial for individuals with scoliosis, especially when sitting for long periods. If you spend a significant amount of time sitting in an office or at school, it’s important to set up your workstation in a way that puts your body in the correct position. This includes using an ergonomic chair and desk to support your back and ensure proper alignment. Adjust your monitor to a comfortable level so that you can look straight ahead without straining your neck. Neglecting proper ergonomics can cause scoliosis to worsen, so taking the time to set up your workstation correctly is essential.

Good Nutrition and Hydration

Consuming foods that are rich in essential vitamins and antioxidants can aid in strengthening the bones, muscles, and joints that support the spine. Furthermore, keeping yourself hydrated can prevent joint stiffness and reduce inflammation that may aggravate scoliosis. Maintaining a healthy and well-rounded diet, along with proper hydration, can promote a healthy and robust spine.

Look for Warning Signs of Scoliosis

In conclusion, paying attention to warning signs is crucial in detecting scoliosis early on. Such signs include a visibly protruding shoulder blade on one side, one side of the ribcage sticking out further than the other, or a leaning posture when standing. Seeking the expertise of a scoliosis specialist to assess the situation and determine appropriate treatment options is important if any of these signs are noticed.

What are Effective Treatment Options?

It’s important to note that scoliosis doesn’t have to be debilitating, as there are many treatment options available, regardless of the severity of the spinal curvature. Seeking out the help of a scoliosis specialist is crucial for an accurate diagnosis and the most effective treatment options. Unlike general practitioners, scoliosis specialists are well-versed in the condition and can provide a tailored approach to prevent further progression and maintain an active lifestyle.

At Optimal Spine & Posture, we specialize in scoliosis treatment and offer a personalized treatment plan to suit your needs. Our approach focuses on avoiding pain medication, which can have side effects and be addictive, and surgery is considered a last resort. We are dedicated to helping you achieve a healthy and active life with scoliosis.

One treatment option for scoliosis is the use of braces and other orthopedic devices:

Braces are worn around the torso and can help correct the spinal curvature and slow the progression of scoliosis. Different types of braces are available, including the Boston brace and ScoliBrace. At Optimal Spine & Posture, ScoliBrace is used, which is custom-designed for each patient’s spinal curvature for maximum comfort. Unlike other braces, the ScoliBrace is designed to avoid weakening muscles or causing physical pain.

Chiropractic Care:

It’s important to note that while chiropractic care may provide pain relief and improve mobility, it’s essential to consult a scoliosis specialist before undergoing any treatment. General chiropractic adjustments are not a recommended treatment for scoliosis, as there is no scientific evidence to support its effectiveness in correcting the progression of scoliosis.

However, Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP) is a specialized technique that focuses on restoring the spine to normal alignment, and it has been shown to be effective in some cases of scoliosis. At Optimal Spine & Posture in Boise, ID our CBP trained doctors have received specialized training in this technique and may be able to provide a tailored approach to treating scoliosis. It’s essential to consult with a scoliosis specialist to determine if CBP or other chiropractic techniques are appropriate for your specific case of scoliosis.

Physical Therapy:

Scoliosis-specific exercises and rehabilitation programs, such as Schroth, SEAS, and Scolibalance, have been shown to be effective in slowing down the progression of scoliosis and improving symptoms. These programs typically involve individualized exercise plans that focus on improving muscle strength and flexibility in specific areas of the spine, as well as improving posture and balance. They can be used in conjunction with bracing to maximize treatment outcomes. It’s important to work with a qualified physical therapist or scoliosis specialist who is trained in these specific rehabilitation programs to ensure the best possible results.

Spinal Injections: 

While spinal injections can help reduce pain and inflammation in scoliosis patients, the procedure comes with risks. Injecting steroids into the area around the spine can cause bleeding, infection, and even nerve injuries if done improperly. It’s important to note that spinal injections don’t improve scoliosis or reduce curve progression.


In severe cases of scoliosis, surgery may be suggested to correct the spinal curvature. Spinal fusion is among the surgical procedures that can be employed to achieve this goal. However, surgery comes with the risk of complications and post-operative pain, and therefore, it is typically only recommended when the curvature is severe and other conservative treatments have proven ineffective.

At Optimal Spine & Posture, we discourage surgery unless it is absolutely necessary. Please consult with us to learn more about your options and develop a care plan tailored to your individual needs.

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