What type of doctor should you see for scoliosis? A list of their pros and cons

Scoliosis is a medical condition involving an abnormal curvature of the spine. There are several healthcare providers and specialists who can be involved in the treatment of scoliosis, each with their own pros and cons. Here are some of the professionals commonly involved in the treatment of scoliosis:

Do Primary Care Physicians (PCP’s) Treat Scoliosis?

  • Pros: PCPs are often the first point of contact for patients with scoliosis. They can provide initial evaluation, diagnosis, and basic management of scoliosis. They can also refer patients to specialists if needed.
  • Cons: PCPs often do not have specialized expertise in treating complex cases of scoliosis. They may refer patients to other specialists for more advanced treatment options.

Do Orthopedic Surgeons Treat Scoliosis?

  • Pros: Orthopedic surgeons specialize in musculoskeletal conditions, including scoliosis. They can provide comprehensive evaluation, diagnosis, and both surgical and non-surgical treatment options for scoliosis.
  • Cons: Surgery, when required, is an invasive option with potential risks and a longer recovery period. Additionally, not all orthopedic surgeons specialize in scoliosis, so it’s important to find one with expertise in the condition.  Scoliosis specialists who are orthopedic surgeons are relatively rare, so it can be a long wait to be seen, or require long travel distances.

Do Pediatricians Treat Scoliosis?

  • Pros: Pediatricians specialize in the care of children, and scoliosis is often diagnosed during childhood or adolescence. They can monitor the progression of scoliosis in children, provide non-surgical treatment options, and make appropriate referrals to specialists if necessary.
  • Cons: Pediatricians typically do not have advanced expertise in scoliosis treatment beyond the initial stages, as they treat children for issues all over the body. They may refer more complex cases to orthopedic surgeons or other specialists.

Do Physical Therapists Treat Scoliosis?

  • Pros: Specialized “Schroth” physical therapists can play a crucial role in managing scoliosis by providing exercises, stretches, and other non-surgical interventions to improve posture, strength, and flexibility. They can also help manage pain and discomfort associated with scoliosis.
  • Cons: Although excellent research exists on the effectiveness of Schroth physical therapy overall, this alone may not be sufficient for significant scoliosis curvature reduction for a given patient, especially in severe cases. It is often used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

Do Chiropractors Treat Scoliosis?

  • Pros: Chiropractors use manual therapies to address spinal alignment issues, including scoliosis. They may provide pain relief, improve mobility, and enhance overall spinal health.
  • Cons: The effectiveness of chiropractic treatment for scoliosis is a matter of debate among medical professionals. While some patients report temporary relief, there is limited scientific evidence supporting chiropractic care as a primary treatment for scoliosis.

What Can A Scoliosis Specialists Do?

  • Pros: Some practitioners, including orthopedic surgeons, physiatrists, physical therapists, and others focus on scoliosis in their practice, and become scoliosis specialists.They can provide comprehensive evaluations, recommend appropriate treatment options, and monitor the progression of scoliosis.
  • Cons: Access to scoliosis specialists may be limited in some areas, requiring travel or longer wait times for appointments.

It’s important to note that the specific treatment approach for scoliosis will depend on the severity of the condition, the age of the patient, and other individual factors. Consulting with a healthcare professional, preferably a specialist, is crucial to determine the most suitable treatment plan for each individual case of scoliosis.