Spinal Deformities

Spinal Deformities

Scoliosis, Flatback Syndrome, Kyphosis and Spondylolisthesis

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Duke specialists treat spinal curvature disorders that affect your daily living. When the spine curves abnormally, it can result in a range of discomfort, from mild to debilitating. We offer an array of nonsurgical therapies, minimally invasive procedures, and surgical options, including complex reconstructive surgery. We tailor our treatment recommendations to your symptoms and health needs so you can return to enjoying your normal activities.

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About Spinal Deformities

When the vertebrae in your spine become misaligned, abnormal spinal curvatures can result. The most common conditions are adult scoliosis (curved spine), flat back syndrome (loss of the spine’s curve), kyphosis (hunchback), and spondylolisthesis, which occurs when one or more vertebrae move out of alignment.

A mild abnormal spinal curve may not cause symptoms. However, some people experience pain that can range from mild to debilitating. When spinal curvature disorders start to affect your daily living, we can help you get relief through conservative, nonsurgical treatment options including physical therapy and spinal injections. Surgery is often the best option for relief from severe back pain and other serious symptoms, including breathing problems.

Our Locations
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.


Epidural Steroid Injections

Treat inflammation and pain right at the source and may be used to manage lower back or leg pain caused by a spinal curvature abnormality. We give these injections in a special suite. You may see your doctor and receive your treatment on the same day.

Physical Therapy

Exercises can be an effective nonsurgical option for some people with spinal curvature disorders. Physical therapy can strengthen your spine, improve balance and flexibility, minimize pain, and prevent injury. Your spine specialist may direct your physical therapy program by recommending the best exercises for you, or we can refer you to a physical therapist. 

Spinal Fusion

We offer complex spinal reconstruction (or spinal fusion) to correct abnormal spine curvatures. We may use minimally invasive techniques, meaning we operate through tiny incisions so that you can recover faster and experience less pain and fewer complications. These procedures involve stabilizing your spine with rods and pins and fusing together the vertebrae.

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Your doctor may order one or more of the following imaging tests to diagnose an abnormality in your spinal curvature or to track its progression over time.


Takes pictures of bones inside your body. X-ray pictures will show areas of instability in your spine. 


Magnets and radio waves are used to take detailed pictures of your spinal discs and the nerve roots of your spinal cord. 

CT Scan

A series of cross-sectional pictures produce detailed, 3-D images of your spine and spinal cord. 

CT Myelogram

A dye is injected into the sac around the nerve roots in your spinal cord to help them show up better on a CT scan.

Duke University Hospital is nationally ranked in 10 adult specialties
Best Hospital for Orthopaedics, Neurosurgery in NC
Where you receive your care matters. Duke University Hospital’s nationally ranked orthopaedics, neurology, and neurosurgery programs were named best in North Carolina by U.S. News & World Report for 2019–2020.

Comprehensive Care for Spine Curvature Disorders

High Volume of Spinal Surgery
Our spinal surgeons undergo advanced training and are among the most experienced in North Carolina. We perform more than 1,200 spinal surgeries annually, including minimally invasive procedures and complex reconstructive surgeries.

Leading Experts
As members of the Scoliosis Research Society, our board-certified spine center specialists are up-to-date on the latest techniques and advances in the treatment and care of spinal curvature disorders.

Intraoperative Imaging Technology
Advanced CT and MRI imaging provide our surgeons with detailed, real-time 3-D pictures of your spine that guide them as they operate.

Nonsurgical Options
Whenever possible, our goal is to help you avoid surgery. Our approach involves a combination of nonsurgical treatments that target the cause of your pain and symptoms. These include medications, physical therapy, and injections.

Specialized Team
In addition to neurosurgeons, orthopaedic surgeons,
physiatrists, and nurses, our team includes pain management experts and physical therapists -- all of whom may work with you to reduce and manage the pain caused by your spinal condition.

Geriatric Support
We partner with geriatric specialists at Duke to assist people with spinal curvature disorders caused by aging and arthritis. Working with geriatricians helps us achieve better, safer results and allows us to manage all of the complications and risk factors associated with reconstructive surgery in older people.