What Are the 7 Types of Scoliosis and Their Treatments

what are the 7 types of scoliosis

Do you find yourself constantly shifting, trying to find a comfortable position? Does a nagging ache linger in your back, a constant reminder of something amiss? Perhaps you notice an unevenness in your shoulders, a tilt in your hips that you try to hide. If these scenarios resonate, you might be one of the millions grappling with scoliosis. Beyond the physical discomfort, scoliosis can take an emotional toll. The fear of a worsening curve, the self-consciousness about your appearance, and the uncertainty about the future can weigh heavily on your mind.

Imagine always feeling slightly off-balance, your body a puzzle you can't quite solve. The glances from others, whether real or perceived, can make you want to shrink away. The simple act of choosing an outfit becomes a source of anxiety as you try to disguise the curve of your spine. Yet, there's strength to be found in the face of these challenges. It's important to remember that you're not alone in this journey. Keep reading as we answer questions like "What are the 7 types of scoliosis?" and "How can Upper Cervical Chiropractic make a difference?".

Key Takeaways: What are the 7 types of scoliosis?

  • Scoliosis has different forms: There are 7 main types of scoliosis, each with varying causes, age of onset, and severity. Understanding its types is important for finding the right treatment approach.
  • Treatment is multi-faceted: Scoliosis management involves a range of options including observation, bracing, physical therapy, surgery, and complementary approaches like upper cervical chiropractic care.
  • The Upper Cervical Connection: Misalignments in the top of the neck can contribute to scoliosis development or progression. Upper Cervical Spine Specialists specialize in addressing this potential factor.
  • Lifestyle matters: Practicing good posture, optimizing your workspace, choosing supportive footwear, and following specific exercises can positively impact scoliosis.
  • Early diagnosis is crucial: Catching scoliosis early, especially in children, offers the best chance of successful management and preventing severe curves.
  • Knowledge is power: Educating yourself about scoliosis, available treatments, and healthy spinal habits empowers you to take an active role in your journey toward better health.

What is Scoliosis?

Imagine your spine as the strong, straight pillar that supports your body. But, with scoliosis, this pillar develops a curve, sometimes a gentle C-shape, other times a more pronounced S-shape. Your shoulders may tilt, one hip might sit higher than the other, and your back might betray a subtle hump where the ribs rotate along with the spine's twist. It's a subtle shift at first, perhaps dismissed as mere aches and pains. But for some, scoliosis brings persistent discomfort, even fatigue, as the body struggles against its unnatural curvature.

The earlier scoliosis is caught, the better. Think of it like a young sapling; if its trunk starts leaning, you can gently guide it back into a straight position. However, the longer a tree is left to grow crooked, the harder it is to straighten. Similarly, early intervention in scoliosis offers the best chance to manage the condition and minimize its long-term impact.

Scoliosis treatment chiropractor

What Are The 7 Types of Scoliosis?

Scoliosis isn't a one-size-fits-all condition. Its origins, severity, and age of onset all play a role in how it's categorized. Let's unravel the seven main types of scoliosis:

  1. Congenital Scoliosis: This type is present from the moment of birth. A developing baby's spine sometimes forms abnormally, and the result is a curve already present as they enter the world. These curves can be severe, necessitating careful monitoring and treatment.
  2. Early Onset Scoliosis: These curves appear before a child turns ten. As their bodies grow, so too can the curve. Early onset scoliosis is particularly concerning because the ribcage is still developing, and a severe curve can impact breathing and lung health. Frequently this type of scoliosis is related to misalignments in the upper neck. A traumatic birth process involving vacuum extraction, C-section delivery, induction and other interventions are more likely associated with misalignments between the head and neck at birth.
  3. Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis: Among the many types of scoliosis, this is the most common. It typically emerges during those turbulent teenage years. The frustrating thing? It's "idiopathic," meaning there's often no clear explanation as to why the spine suddenly develops a curve. These curves have a tendency to worsen during growth spurts. Again this type of scoliosis can result in injuries to the head and neck during the first decade such as falls from a swing set, car accidents, bike accidents etc.
  4. Degenerative Scoliosis: As we age, our bodies face wear and tear. The spine is no exception. Discs can shrink, joints wear down, and osteoporosis weakens bones – this sometimes triggers a curve in the spine well into adulthood. Degenerative scoliosis is what's sometimes called adult-onset scoliosis. This type of scoliosis can also begin in childhood and become more severe as degeneration gets worse with a misaligned spine.
  5. Neuromuscular Scoliosis: Sometimes, scoliosis isn't the primary problem but rather a side effect. Conditions like cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and others can impact muscles and nerves, affecting how the spine is held. These curves tend to be complex and require specialized care.
  6. Syndromic Scoliosis: Certain genetic syndromes, such as Marfan syndrome or Rett syndrome, can involve scoliosis as one of their features. The way this scoliosis presents and responds to treatment varies depending on the specific underlying syndrome.
  7. Scheuermann's Kyphosis: While scoliosis produces a sideways curve, kyphosis causes a forward, rounded curve in the upper back, making a person appear hunched over. Though different in appearance, it's still a spinal disorder that can cause discomfort and impact posture and is sometimes coupled with scoliosis.

Living with Scoliosis: What Are the Best Management and Treatment Options?

The approach to treating scoliosis depends on various factors. So besides knowing the types of scoliosis, you also need to look into things like the severity of the curve, your age (or your loved one's), and your overall health. It's rarely a one-and-done solution but rather a journey navigated with the guidance of healthcare professionals. Here's a look at common treatment options for different types of scoliosis including degenerative scoliosis neuromuscular congenital thoracic scoliosis lumbar thoracolumbar:

Careful and Constant Observation

For mild curves, doctors often recommend careful monitoring. Regular checkups and X-rays track whether the curve worsens. If it stays stable, no other treatment might be needed. While observation is important if a misalignment has occurred in the upper neck that is causing the head to tilt to one side than the compensations of the spine will not get better. The upper neck misalignment must be corrected in order for the compensations throughout the rest of the spine to improve.

Head and neck misalignment creating compensations throughout the rest of the body.


When curves get bigger and doctors worry about them progressing, bracing is often the next step, particularly for growing children. Braces don't fix the curve but act as a force to try and prevent it from getting worse. Again if you can identify and upper neck misalignments that is causing the scoliosis braces are frequently not necessary unless the curve is very severe.

Physical Therapy

Scoliosis-specific exercises can help improve posture, strengthen muscles, and gain flexibility. Some specialized physical therapy techniques, like the Schroth method, focus specifically on scoliosis exercises and even breathing patterns. These types of exercises are important for the most common type of scoliosis, idiopathic.


In severe cases or when other methods fail, surgery may be necessary. Spinal fusion is the most common procedure, where surgeons aim to straighten and hold the spine in place using rods, screws, and bone grafts. This is usually only necessary if a scoliosis has not been identified early on and becomes extremely severe. This should be a last resort as scoliosis surgery can cause many other issues.

Lifestyle Modifications

While there may be no single "cure" for every book scoliosis, a proactive approach to your overall health can make a significant difference in managing the condition. Alongside any prescribed treatments, here are some key areas where you can make positive changes:


Consulting a physical therapist specializing in scoliosis is highly recommended. However, focusing on these general aspects of exercise can be beneficial:

  • Core Stability: Building a strong core provides crucial support for your spine and helps improve posture.
  • Flexibility: Incorporate activities that emphasize stretching and range of motion to enhance overall spinal health. Consider modified forms of yoga and Pilates for a safe and effective approach.
  • Posture Exercises: Specific exercises can help counteract the effects of a curved spine and improve your overall posture.

Additionally, activities like swimming, mountain biking, and running can be excellent options. These are non-jarring to your body while promoting cardiovascular fitness.

Home Adjustments

Alongside dedicated exercise, these home practices can further support your spinal health:

  • Ergonomic Workspace: Ensure your desk, chair, and computer setup promote good posture.
  • Proper Lifting Techniques: Protect your back by learning safe ways to lift and carry objects.
  • Supportive Footwear: Choose comfortable shoes with good arch support.
  • Quality Sleep: A supportive mattress is essential for maintaining proper spinal alignment during rest.

Nutrition, Weight, and Stress Management

Focus on the following aspects to optimize your overall well-being:

  • Healthy Diet: Choose a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, crucial for bone health.
  • Healthy Weight: Maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI) reduces unnecessary strain on your spine.
  • Avoid Smoking: Smoking can significantly worsen spinal issues and hinder healing processes.
  • Stress Reduction: Practices like meditation or deep breathing can help manage stress, which sometimes exacerbates scoliosis symptoms.

Additional Lifestyle Tips

  • Stay Active: Incorporate regular physical activity that aligns with your condition and overall fitness level.
  • Prioritize Self-Care: Focus on your well-being through good nutrition, quality sleep, and effective stress management practices.
  • Seek Support: Build a strong support network. Family, friends, and scoliosis support groups can provide invaluable emotional and practical assistance.
  • Avoid Overexertion: Listen to your body's signals and take rests when needed. Pushing yourself too hard can worsen symptoms.
How can I treat scoliosis at home

New Scoliosis Treatment for Adults

While scoliosis often brings to mind images of teens in braces, more and more adults are seeking care. Thankfully, treatment options are evolving alongside this growing need. Here are a few exciting developments in adult scoliosis care:

  • Non-Fusion Surgical Techniques: Traditionally, severe scoliosis surgery involved spinal fusion, a complex procedure with a long recovery. However, newer surgical methods, like tethering or dynamic stabilization, aim to correct the spine while preserving more movement. These are still major procedures but may be an option when other treatments haven't worked.
  • Pain Management Advancements: Even when the curve can't be fully corrected, improving function and minimizing pain is essential. Techniques like nerve blocks, specialized injections, and even advancements in medication management are helping adults with scoliosis live more comfortably.
  • Focus on Holistic Wellness: Alongside targeted treatments, there's growing emphasis on overall well-being for adults with scoliosis. Nutrition, stress management, ergonomic adjustments, and appropriate modified exercise all play a role in supporting spine health and quality of life.

Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care

Besides looking into the techniques and tips we shared above, you might find it extra helpful to look into your Upper Cervical spine alignment. After all, it might just be the key to restoring balance in your spine. Additionally, it uses a whole-body approach - which can provide you with a better understanding of how to heal your body naturally.

Think of your spine like a chain, with each link intricately connected. The two topmost vertebrae, the atlas and axis, in your neck are where it all begins. They act as a finely balanced cradle for your head, allowing for smooth movement. When these vertebrae are even slightly misaligned, it can have a ripple effect down the entire spine.

Research suggests that an upper cervical misalignment might play a role in the development or worsening of scoliosis. Imagine your head tilting slightly off-center; your body will subconsciously try to compensate, shifting your shoulders, twisting your hips, and ultimately, causing a curve in your spine in an attempt to find balance.

Upper cervical misalignment

Upper Cervical Chiropractors specialize in detecting and correcting these delicate misalignments. Through precise diagnostic imaging and gentle adjustments, they aim to restore proper alignment, allowing the rest of the spine to function more optimally and potentially lessen the impact of scoliosis.

You Can Thrive with Scoliosis: Try Upper Cervical Chiropractic

Scoliosis may feel isolating at times, a unique journey with its own set of challenges. But remember, you are not alone. Many others share similar struggles with back pain, relentless discomfort, and the search for lasting solutions. Understanding the different forms of scoliosis, the variety of treatment options, and the role of factors like upper cervical health allow individuals to navigate their spinal health proactively. And sometimes, hearing the stories of others who have found relief can be a powerful source of hope.

Let's look at Brittany's experience. Like so many others, she sought help for chronic back pain, even receiving diagnoses of scoliosis and fibromyalgia. Watch her video to see how her journey unfolded:

  • Her Struggle: Brittany's pain went beyond what medication could fully address, impacting her daily life.
  • Her Experience: Assessments revealed the unique aspects of her spinal curvature. Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care, focused on her individual needs, brought significant pain relief, allowing her to return to the activities she enjoyed.
  • Her Message: Brittany encourages those with similar struggles to not lose hope. She emphasizes the importance of seeking help from an upper cervical specialist or scoliosis treatment chiropractor and sharing stories of success to inspire others.

Brittany's story reminds us that even with the challenges of scoliosis, finding strategies to manage pain and enhance your quality of life is achievable. If you suspect scoliosis or have received a diagnosis, don't be discouraged. Arm yourself with information, consult with an Upper Cervical Chiropractor in your city, by searching for an upper cervical specialist near me and explore the possibilities available to you.

Remember, even the smallest steps in optimizing your spinal health can make a meaningful difference. Isn't it time to take control of your health journey?

FAQs: Types of Scoliosis and Best Ways to Cope

What is the main treatment for scoliosis?

There's no single "main" treatment, as the best approach depends on the type of scoliosis, its severity, the person's age, and overall health. As we've discussed above, most patients turn to bracing, physical therapy, surgery, and natural options like Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care.

How can I treat scoliosis at home?

Home practices complement professional treatment. Ensure an ergonomic workspace, practice good posture, use proper lifting techniques, choose supportive footwear, and maintain a healthy diet. Your doctor, chiropractor, or physical therapist may offer specific exercises for your type of scoliosis.

Is scoliosis permanent?

While scoliosis often can't be fully cured, treatment aims to prevent its progression, manage symptoms, and improve overall spinal health and posture. Early intervention is crucial, especially for growing children.

What is the best exercise for scoliosis?

There's no one-size-fits-all answer. A physical therapist specializing in scoliosis can create a tailored exercise plan. In general, exercises that focus on strengthening core muscles, improving flexibility, and promoting good posture can be beneficial. Activities like yoga or Pilates, with appropriate modifications, may be helpful.

Can scoliosis be corrected in adults?

While treatment options differ from those for children and teens, adults can still find relief and improve spinal health. Physical therapy, chiropractic care, and in severe cases, surgery, may help manage symptoms and improve posture.

Does having scoliosis mean I will eventually need surgery?

Each case of scoliosis is different, so it would help to talk to your doctor to gauge the severity of the postural misalignment. It's equally important to check for red flags that might require urgent medical intervention such as having an abnormal forward flexed posture.

What is the most severe type of scoliosis?

The most severe type of scoliosis is classified as severe scoliosis, where the spinal curve exceeds 40 degrees. This classification is based on the Cobb Angle, a measure used to determine the angle of spinal curvature visible on an X-ray. Severe scoliosis can lead to significant physical complications, including excruciating pain, restricted lung capacity, and potential heart problems due to the reduced space in the chest cavity. Additionally, severe scoliosis can be disabling and may require surgical intervention to correct or alleviate symptoms.

What is a rare form of scoliosis?

A rare form of scoliosis in adults is degenerative scoliosis, which is characterized by a side-to-side curvature of the spine caused by degeneration of the facet joints and intervertebral discs. This type of scoliosis typically develops during adulthood due to age-related degeneration and is often seen in the lower back (lumbar spine). It is a common condition among adults, particularly those over 40 years of age, and can be caused by a combination of aging and wear and tear on the spine's structures.

What can be mistaken for scoliosis?

Scoliosis can be mistaken for several other conditions that cause spinal deformity, neurologic abnormalities, and gait abnormalities. Some of these conditions include:

  1. Syringomyelia: This is a condition characterized by a fluid-filled cavity within the spinal cord, which can cause spinal deformity and neurologic symptoms similar to scoliosis.
  2. Spina Bifida: This is a congenital condition where there is incomplete closure of the neural tube, leading to spinal deformity and neurologic symptoms that can be mistaken for scoliosis.
  3. Arnold-Chiari Malformation: This is a congenital condition where there is a defect in the cerebellum and brain stem, which can cause spinal deformity and neurologic symptoms similar to scoliosis.
  4. Leg Length Discrepancy: This is a condition where one leg is shorter than the other, which can cause gait abnormalities and spinal deformity that can be mistaken for scoliosis.
  5. Kyphosis: This is a condition characterized by an excessive curvature of the spine, which can be mistaken for scoliosis.
  6. Lordosis: This is a condition characterized by an inward curvature of the lower back, which can be mistaken for scoliosis.
  7. Herniated Intervertebral Disc: This is a condition where the soft, gel-like center of a spinal disc bulges out through a tear in the outer, tougher layer, which can cause back pain and spinal deformity that can be mistaken for scoliosis.
  8. Lumbar Disc Herniation: This is a condition where the soft, gel-like center of a spinal disc bulges out through a tear in the outer, tougher layer, which can cause back pain and spinal deformity that can be mistaken for scoliosis.
  9. Rotatory Olisthesis: This is a condition where a vertebra slips out of place, which can cause spinal deformity and pain that can be mistaken for scoliosis.
  10. Degenerative Scoliosis: This is a condition where the spine degenerates over time, leading to spinal deformity and pain that can be mistaken for scoliosis.

These conditions can be differentiated from scoliosis through a combination of medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic imaging such as X-rays and MRI scans.

What can worsen scoliosis?

Several activities and exercises can potentially worsen scoliosis, particularly if they involve repetitive shocks or compressive forces to the spine, or if they compromise the good curves of the spine. These include:

  1. Long-distance running: This high-impact activity can cause repetitive shocks to the spine, potentially exacerbating scoliosis.
  2. Horseback riding: Similar to long-distance running, horseback riding involves repetitive shocks and compressive forces that can worsen scoliosis.
  3. Off-road cycling: This high-impact activity can also cause repetitive shocks and compressive forces that may worsen scoliosis.
  4. Triple or long jump: These high-impact activities involve repetitive shocks and compressive forces that can potentially worsen scoliosis.
  5. Weight lifting: Lifting weights without proper form or guidance can lead to complications and potentially worsen scoliosis.
  6. Marching band: This activity involves repetitive shocks and compressive forces that can worsen scoliosis.
  7. Golf, tennis, and bowling: These activities involve a great deal of rotation, which can potentially worsen certain types of curves in individuals with scoliosis.
  8. Shot put or javelin: These activities involve high-impact, rotational movements that can worsen scoliosis.
  9. Playing string or wind instruments: Activities like playing the flute, guitar, or violin involve repetitive movements that can compromise the good curves of the spine, potentially worsening scoliosis.
  10. Exercises that compromise good curves: Exercises like sit-ups, push-ups, and pull-ups can compromise the good curves of the spine, potentially worsening scoliosis.

It is crucial for individuals with scoliosis to consult with their healthcare provider to determine which activities are safe for them and to develop a personalized exercise plan that avoids exacerbating their condition.

Living with scoliosis doesn't have to mean living with limitations. Schedule a consultation with an Upper Cervical Chiropractor in your city today and unlock new possibilities for your spinal health.

Find an Upper Cervical Specialist In Your Area

to schedule a consultation today.

Featured Articles


Montel Williams
Montel Williams

TV show host Montel Williams describes how specific chiropractic care has helped his body.

NBC's The Doctors

The TV show "The Doctors" showcased Upper Cervical Care.

CBS News/Migraine Relief

CBS News highlighted the alleviation of Migraines and Headaches.

The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.