Currently, the spine medical community advocates bracing as the only non-surgical treatment for idiopathic scoliosis. The objective of bracing treatment is to prevent the curve from progressing as the child grows, and studies have shown bracing is effective in stopping the progression of the majority of adolescent scoliotic curves.
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There are a number of bracing options, and the physician will recommend a particular back brace and bracing schedule based on factors such as the location of the child's curve and degree of curvature. Compliance with wearing the back brace as prescribed is clearly vital to the success of bracing treatment.
Unfortunately, even with appropriate bracing, some spinal curves will continue to progress. Early on it is very difficult to tell which curves will be aggressive and continue to progress, and which curves will not continue to progress.
If the curve continues to progress to 40 - 45 degrees or more, then a spinal fusion surgery will usually be recommended. However, even if surgery eventually becomes necessary, the back brace can still be beneficial by helping delay the progression of the curvature and allowing the child to grow more before having a spinal fusion (which stops the growth of the spine).