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Leaders in Spinal Deformity Care

The physicians at Shriners Children's remain world-leading in the techniques, procedures, and training they provide for spinal deformities. Our teams have created new patents for products like The Tether™ for scoliosis treatments. They are also leaders in new diagnostic and analysis tools through our Motion Analysis program.

Spinal deformities are an abnormal curvature of the spine that can be present at birth, develop in early childhood, or show up during adolescence. Some deformities are caused when the spine does not develop properly during pregnancy. While others like, idiopathic scoliosis, have no known cause.

At Shriners Children's, our focus is on detecting spine problems early and treating the needs of each child individually. Our spine teams take a comprehensive approach to pediatric conditions like scoliosis, kyphosis, lordosis, and chest wall deformities.

Specific treatments and services may vary by location. Please contact a specific location for more information.

Common Signs and Symptoms

  • Back pain
  • Uneven shoulder heights
  • Uneven shoulder blades
  • Tilted pelvis
  • Walking difficulties
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Hunched back

When signs of a deformity become more obvious, diagnostic methods such as X-Rays using our advanced EOS imaging system, MRIs, and CT scans can be used to find out how severe the deformity is. Many spine conditions can share the same symptoms, so extra care is taken by our physicians to get the diagnosis right.

Nonsurgical Treatments

Our physicians work with your child to create the right course of treatment for their age, severity of deformity, and location of the curve. There are less invasive nonsurgical options available to those in the right stage of growth. But even if surgery is recommended to help your child's condition, Shriners Children's offers innovative techniques for both fusion and nonfusion treatments.

Physical therapy, serial casting, and bracing might be an option to help stop the progression of their curve. Therapy can include scoliosis specific exercises that help minimize curve progression. Our therapists also help educate a patient about their specific curve type. Bracing can also help stop the progression of a curve, but can be more involved because wearing the brace as directed is vital to the success of the treatment.

Surgical Treatments

Shriners Children's innovative surgeries may be recommended for your child, depending on the severity of deformity and stage of growth. Spinal surgery can allow your child to get back to the things they love doing and help manage spine related pain. Below are some of the surgical treatments that Shriners Children's offers for your child's spine condition.

  • Anterior Vertebral Body Tethering (AVBT) uses a strong, flexible cord that gently pulls on the outside of a scoliosis curve to straighten the spine. A screw is placed in each vertebra of the curve and then attached to the flexible cord with the spine in a straighter position.
  • Vertical Expandable Prosthetic Titanium rib (VEPTR or titanium rib) is a rod curved to fit the back of the chest and spine, and is designed to primarily be used for growing children with a chest wall deformity.
  • Growing Rods allow for continued and controlled spine growth. This is performed as a surgical procedure where the rods are attached to the spine above and below the curve with screws. The growing rods are lengthened under anesthesia every four to six months, depending on how the curvature of the spine is changing.
  • MAGnetic Expansion Control (MAGEC) Spinal Bracing and Distraction System rods could be recommended for younger children with less severe curves. With MAGEC rods, a single surgery is done at the beginning, but the noninvasive lengthening process eliminates the need for repeated surgeries.
  • Spinal Fusion Surgery is recommended to correct a curve or stop it from progressing. Fusion could be recommended for a child if they are still growing and their curve is more severe, or if they have stopped growing and the spine needs stabilized.
I know I wouldn't be where I am right now without Shriners Children's. Now I'm back doing the activities I love without limitations. Shriners gave me my freedom back!
Thalia, Springfield
female patient and mother outside

Leaders in Scoliosis Treatment

A diagnosis of scoliosis can be stressful for the entire family, but together we’ll create a treatment plan that is the best fit for your child’s age, the severity of their condition, and the activities they love.

Innovative Treatments

View All Related Treatments

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy at Shriners Children's helps children build confidence and strength, focusing on what is important to them and what they love to do in their daily lives.

Scoliosis Specific Exercises

Scoliosis specific exercises offered by physical therapists at Shriners Children’s, aim to correct and slow the progression of a spinal curve, reduce pain and improve posture, breathing and quality of life.

Serial Casting

When a joint is unable to extend or flex, one of the connected muscles may be too tight or too short. To assist in turning the joint in the correct direction, Shriners Children's orthopedic specialists offer serial casting.

Bracing

Shriners Children's multidisciplinary team includes orthotists who create braces to meet the individual need of each child – whether to treat a complex condition or common injury.

Spine Surgery

At Shriners Children's, we explore all non-surgical options for your child's spine before considering surgery. If surgery is recommended, your child will be in the hands of our world renown orthopedic surgeons.

Anterior Vertebral Body Tethering

Shriners Children's is a leader in this alternative, less invasive treatment to spinal fusion. It provides another option for patients with scoliosis who are still growing and need surgery.

Growing Rods

Shriners Children's provides growing rods for children who have not reached skeletal maturity. They are placed along the spine to correct a spinal curve and allow continued growth of the spine.

Spinal Fusion Surgery

Spinal fusion surgery stabilizes and corrects the curvature of the spine; and for scoliosis and kyphosis, prevents further curvature of the spine. Stabilizing the spine can improve movement, reduce pain and restore lung function.

Next Steps

Request an Appointment

Families and caregivers seeking treatment should start by contacting us for an appointment.

Log in to the Patient Portal

Parents and guardians of existing patients can email, request records, schedule appointments and more.

Refer a Patient

Physicians and healthcare providers can request appointments, start transfers or contact us with questions.