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Medical Treatment for Scoliosis & Kyphosis

Many adults diagnosed with scoliosis or kyphosis can be successfully treated without surgery by using a combination of pain relief medication and physical therapy. Our spine specialists evaluate your symptoms and the results of any diagnostic tests in order to recommend treatment that can relieve your pain and help you to move and walk more easily.

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Pain Relief Medication

Having an unusual curve in your spine can be painful. In a straight spine, the bones, or vertebrae, stack on top of each other and are connected by flexible joints. In people with scoliosis and kyphosis, however, the spine curvature pushes the vertebrae together in unusual ways, which can cause inflammation and pain. A curved spine can also press the vertebrae against nearby nerves, sending pain signals through the nerves and into the arms and legs.

Many people find that medication provides relief from this pain. Over-the-counter medications that block pain signals and reduce inflammation, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can relieve moderate back or neck pain and help you to remain active.

If an unusually strenuous activity causes a temporary flare-up of severe pain, a doctor may prescribe a stronger pain medication for a few days while you recover. Most of the time, back pain due to one incident of physical activity goes away on its own within a week.

Physical Therapy

A daily exercise routine to strengthen abdominal, thigh, buttock, and back muscles can improve posture and help stabilize the spine, making movement easier and less painful. The physical medicine doctors and physical therapists at NYU Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation understand the needs of people with scoliosis and kyphosis and specialize in creating simple but effective stretching and strength-building exercises to improve flexibility and tone the muscles that support the spine. In addition, low-impact cardiovascular activities, such as swimming or cycling, provide a total-body workout without putting strain on the spine.

NYU Langone doctors may recommend six to eight weeks of physical therapy. Our therapists can ensure that the therapy program meets your needs and goals, and they can also help you to become comfortable with an exercise routine. Committing to a long-term physical therapy program is an important part of continued management of scoliosis or kyphosis.

Our Research and Education in Scoliosis and Kyphosis

Learn more about our research and professional education opportunities.