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Scoliosis: Why is the Watch and Wait Model Antiquated

Watch and Wait

The “watch and wait” model for treating mild scoliosis is outdated and ineffective. This approach involves waiting six months to see if the curve gets worse before considering treatment. This is not a proactive or effective way to approach scoliosis treatment. Instead, it is better to start treatment as soon as scoliosis is detected, while the curve is still small. This approach is easier for the child and family and can prevent the need for more complex and invasive treatments like surgery or full-time bracing. It is important to be proactive and start treatment early to prevent scoliosis from progressing.

Scoliosis, a condition characterized by an abnormal curvature of the spine, affects millions of people worldwide. Traditionally, the “watch and wait” model has been a common approach to mild scoliosis cases. Dr. Andrew Strauss explains why this model is considered outdated and explores the importance of proactive intervention in the early stages of scoliosis.

Understanding the Watch and Wait Model

What is the Watch and Wait Model?

The watch and wait model involves a passive approach to treating scoliosis, particularly in cases where the curvature is mild. When a person with mild scoliosis consults an orthopedist, the common response is often, “Let’s give it six months and see what happens.” This approach relies on monitoring the progression of the curvature without initiating any active treatment.

The Absurdity of Waiting

Imagine a scenario with a different medical condition, such as cancer. If an individual were diagnosed with cancer, it would be unthinkable for the doctor to suggest waiting six months before considering treatment. The idea of delaying intervention until the condition worsens is met with disbelief. Yet, surprisingly, this has been the standard of care for mild scoliosis—wait until it gets worse.

Proactivity vs. Reactivity

Proactive Approach to Scoliosis Treatment

The rationale behind a proactive approach is simple: start treatment when the scoliotic curve is as small as possible. Waiting for the condition to deteriorate only complicates the treatment process and poses additional challenges for the patient and their family. Proactive intervention offers several advantages, making it a more sensible and patient-friendly strategy.

  1. Easier on the Child and Family

Initiating treatment when the scoliotic curve is still in its early stages is significantly easier on the child and their family. Mild cases may respond well to non-invasive methods, reducing the burden on the child’s daily life and sparing the family from potential complications that may arise with a more severe curvature.

  1. Better Long-Term Outcomes

Addressing scoliosis early on can lead to better long-term outcomes. Early intervention may prevent the progression of the curvature, eliminating the need for more invasive and complex treatments later on. This not only benefits the patient’s physical health but also minimizes the emotional and financial toll on the family.

  1. Avoidance of Unnecessary Complications

In some cases, scoliosis may not progress significantly over time. However, in the watch and wait model, there is a risk of missing the window for early intervention if the condition does worsen. By opting for proactive treatment, even if the curvature remains stable, there is minimal risk, and the potential benefits far outweigh the downsides.


In conclusion, the watch and wait model for mild scoliosis is increasingly recognized as an outdated and potentially harmful approach. The medical community is shifting towards a more proactive stance, emphasizing early intervention to improve outcomes for patients and their families. Treating scoliosis in its early stages not only minimizes the impact on the child’s life but also reduces the risk of complications and the need for more invasive procedures later on. It is time to move away from the antiquated watch and wait model and embrace a proactive approach that prioritizes the well-being of those affected by scoliosis.

Also read: How I Relieved Severe Back Pain & Headaches


Dr. Strauss is the director of the Hudson Valley Scoliosis Correction Center in New York. He has been actively engaged in scoliosis treatment for the past 30 years and has authored two books on the subject, Your Child Has Scoliosis and The Truth About Adult Scoliosis

He is Vice President of the CLEAR Scoliosis Institute and a lecturer for their introductory and advanced workshops.  He is certified in scoliosis bracing and in the use of  scoliosis specific exercises.  Dr. Strauss is a graduate of the ISICO World Masters of Scoliosis.His postgraduate studies also include a Masters Degree in Acupuncture as well as training in Grostic, Pettibon, CBP, Clinical Nutrition, Chinese Herbal Medicine, Manipulation under Anesthesia, and Electrodiagnosis.

His scoliosis practice has treated patients from 25 states and 32 other foreign countries.

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