Treatment and Services

Spine Program

What is the Spine Program?

The Spine Program provides care for babies, children, teens and young adults with any condition that affects their spine. Some of these conditions may be present at birth (congenital). Others may develop later as your child grows. Spine problems may cause pain or other symptoms, such as numbness or weakness, or affect the way your child's spine grows, looks and moves.

Experts from Seattle Children's Spine Program offer nonsurgical as well as surgical treatments based on your child's needs. Few conditions require surgery. We treat most children as outpatients in our clinic. For children who need surgery, we also provide inpatient care in the hospital.

The conditions we treat include scoliosisspondylolysis, spondylolisthesiskyphosis (including Scheuermann kyphosis), lordosis and congenital deformities of the spine, such as hemivertebrae and congenital bars. We also treat spinal tumorsherniated disks, upper and lower back pain, spinal fracturestorticollis and spinal problems linked with dwarfism and skeletal dysplasias.

Within the Spine Program, we have special clinics for complex spine conditions, including problems with the neck (cervical spine), and early-onset growing-spine conditions, such as dwarfing syndromes.

How will the Spine Program meet my needs?

At Seattle Children's, we take care to find out what is causing your child's spine problem. Our experts do a careful evaluation to understand your child's condition, how it affects your child and whether it's linked with other health problems.

We also consider your child's needs based on their age. Because their bodies are still developing, children with spine problems may need different treatments than adults do. All our providers are trained not only to treat the spine, but also to care for growing patients, from babies to young adults.

For problems not likely to need surgery, your child may first see a nonsurgical provider who works closely with our orthopedic surgeons. Many children with spine problems can be helped with nonsurgical treatments, such as:

  • Physical therapy to stretch or strengthen your child's spine and nearby structures or work on posture
  • Orthotics, such as back braces, to support your child's spine
  • Changes in activity, either to rest or to strengthen parts of their spine

For children who need surgical treatment, our doctors are known around the country for excellence in all types of spine surgery, including options such as:

  • Using metal plates, rods and screws to correct abnormal curves or stabilize spine bones (vertebrae), including growing rods, vertical expandable prosthetic titanium ribs (known as VEPTRs) and the MAGEC (MAGnetic Expansion Control) system
  • Fusing parts of the spine, if needed
  • Opening the spinal canal to take pressure off the spinal cord or nerve roots
  • Removing hemivertebrae to correct sharp angles in the spine
  • Removing spinal tumors, including benign (noncancerous) tumors that press on nearby structures and malignant (cancerous) tumors that may break through or spread to other tissues

Reducing the number of surgeries for severe scoliosis

Our surgeons helped introduce a technology that reduces surgeries for kids with severe scoliosis -- and improves their lives. Read more.

Who’s on the team?

Surgeons, doctors, physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) from Orthopedics and Sports Medicine will work together to treat your child's spine. For some conditions, your child might start by seeing one of our expert PAs or NPs for an evaluation. To find the best treatment for your child, our Orthopedics providers work closely with other departments, such as RheumatologyAdolescent MedicinePain MedicineRehabilitation Medicine and Neurosurgery.