The reason conventional medical treatment for scoliosis is so limited in the U.S. is primarily due to the fact orthopedic surgeons are the “gatekeepers” of treatment for this condition. They make the decision about which patients will be referred for care and which will not. While nearly all patients diagnosed with scoliosis are referred for an orthopedic consult, surgeons will usually only recommend surgery for a small fraction of those patients. (1-2%).
Because surgery is considered the “Gold Standard” treatment for scoliosis and it is the orthopedist’s primary treatment, they frequently assume that’s all there is that can really help. So until the patient eventually needs surgery, they often don’t consider other alternatives. So the most common recommendation for scoliosis patients is to simply “watch & wait” and do nothing until surgery is needed. This leaves the vast majority scoliosis patients going without any treatment at all!
While some adolescent patients with moderate curves may be sent to an orthotists to be fitted for a hard brace, this type of a brace does nothing to reduce curves as it is only designed to stop progression. For adults that later develop back pain due to worsening of their scoliosis, they’re frequently prescribed pain medications that only serve to temporarily masks symptoms. None of these treatments do anything to address the underlying cause of scoliosis, nor are they long-term solutions that can help a patient avoid surgery later in life.