Spinal Deformity

Houston Methodist is home to the top-ranked spine program in Texas. Our doctors specialize in diagnosing and treating complex spinal deformities, offering advanced therapies and personalized care. 

Spinal deformity is a group of conditions that causes unnatural spinal curvatures. Scoliosis, kyphosis and lordosis are common spinal deformities that can affect posture and cause pain or other symptoms. Mild curvatures often require little to no treatment. But if your spinal deformity gets worse, causes pain or interferes with your daily life, it’s time to see a specialist. 

Houston Methodist spine specialists are leaders in the field, with years of expertise in diagnosing and treating these delicate conditions. We offer a full range of treatment options for spinal deformity, from therapeutic care to innovative, minimally invasive procedures to help control your symptoms and slow disease progression. 

Diagnosing & Treating Spinal Deformity

How are spinal deformities diagnosed?

An accurate diagnosis of spinal deformity starts with a thorough physical exam and a conversation about your personal and family medical history. Your doctor may order nerve tests or imaging, such as an X-ray, CT scan or MRI to confirm or rule out other conditions. 

The telltale sign of a spinal deformity is an unusual curving of the spine, which can be seen in how you sit, stand and walk. Spinal deformity can occur anywhere along your neck or spine, and these conditions can occur at birth or over time as we age.

Symptoms can vary in intensity. Some people have no noticeable symptoms, while others experience ongoing back pain; weakness, numbing or tingling in legs; balance problems; bowel or bladder incontinence; difficulty standing or other troubling symptoms.  

There are many different types, classifications and causes of spinal deformity. Common types of spinal deformities include: 


  • Kyphosis (Kelso’s hunchback) – an extreme outward curvature of the spine that can make people appear to be slouching. This can be caused by conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis, Scheuermann’s disease or trauma.
  • Lordosis (swayback) – occurs when the spine is curved inward. This may be caused by strength imbalances in the body, abnormal bone growth, spondylolisthesis (in which vertebrae slip out of place) or osteoporosis.
  • Scoliosis – when the spine is twisted from side to side. The spine may also be rotated out of normal alignment. Scoliosis can be caused by conditions such as spina bifida, cerebral palsy, spinal muscular atrophy and trauma.

What treatments are available?

Spinal deformity treatment should be personalized to your specific needs. Mild to moderate forms often do not require treatment, with regular monitoring to detect worsening of the curvature.

More severe deformities can cause serious issues and pain. Houston Methodist’s team of spine specialists can help you decide the best treatment plan for you and your condition. Your care plan may include one or a combination of the following: 


  • Back brace – For moderate cases, braces can help mobilize the spine to aid in movement and help prevent further curvature.  
  • Exercise and physical therapy – Strengthening and increasing the flexibility of the muscles of the back, core and legs will better support the spine. 
  • Surgery – In severe and rare cases, surgery can repair the deformity and limit the pain it causes. 

I need advanced care or a second opinion.

Whether you need a diagnosis or a second opinion, we have the expertise to help. Houston Methodist’s specialists have years of training and experience needed to diagnose and treat complex conditions of the spine. Our compassionate experts will design a personalized treatment plan that works for you. 

Find a Spine Specialist