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Navigating Scoliosis: A Patient & Physical Therapist Perspective

By: Dr. Caroline Joy PT, DPT


Have you or a loved one recently been diagnosed or struggling with managing scoliosis? My personal experience with scoliosis and knowledge as a Physical Therapist and Pilates Instructor has given me a unique perspective on managing a curvy spine. There is a LOT of information out there regarding the best ways to approach a diagnosis of scoliosis, so take the following as a consolidated version of what I found to be the best methods based on research as well as my personal/professional experience. This blog post will cover conservative treatment and pain management for scoliosis.



Conservative Management


Bracing is an effective conservative technique to prevent progression of scoliosis. It is especially effective when used during higher risk phases of development (13-15 yo). Night braces are typically worn 8-10 hours daily (success rate* of 78.7%) and day braces are typically worn 16-20 hours daily (success rate 73.2%).1,2


The Schroth Method incorporates three-dimensional therapy to reshape the ribcage and reduce the deformity associated with Scoliosis. The aim of the Schroth Method is to reduce the incidence of scoliosis progression, reduce postural rotation, improve mobility and postural stability, reduce pain, and improve cardiopulmonary function.3,4


Pilates with emphasized techniques for scoliosis can help in similar ways to Schroth. Emphasized techniques include elongation, corrective breathing, and use of props to position the spine towards neutral.5


Spinal Stabilization Exercise with PT instruction has been proven in research to be effective for improving pain and quality of life levels for people with scoliosis.6 Pain with Scoliosis Methods for pain relief related to scoliosis include therapeutic massage, spinal stabilization exercises/pilates, heat in the form of a hot pack or heat wrap and lastly, physical therapy!7


Surgical Intervention: If you’re more interested in learning more about surgical management for scoliosis refer to the following links:





*success rate being less than or equal to a 5 degree curve progression.


If you're interested in trying Physical Therapy for management of your scoliosis, give us a call or put in an inquiry at https://www.thegrpt.com/events-and-offers to set up an evaluation or consultation with our team!


References


1. Vicente, L.G.; Barrios, M.J.; González-Santos, J.; Santamaría-Peláez, M.; Soto-Cámara, R.; Mielgo-Ayuso, J.; Fernández-Lázaro, D.; González-Bernal, J.J. The ISJ 3D Brace, a Providence Brace Evolution, as a Surgery Prevention Method in Idiopathic Scoliosis. J. Clin. Med. 2021, 10, 3915. https://doi.org/10.3390/ jcm10173915

2. Weiss, H.-R. Comment on Costa et al. The Effectiveness of Different Concepts of Bracing in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS): A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J. Clin. Med. 2021, 10, 2145. J. Clin. Med. 2022, 11, 752. https://doi.org/10.3390/ jcm11030752

3. Schreiber S, Parent EC, Khodayari Moez E, et al. Schroth Physiotherapeutic Scoliosis-Specific Exercises Added to the Standard of Care Lead to Better Cobb Angle Outcomes in Adolescents with Idiopathic Scoliosis – an Assessor and Statistician Blinded Randomized Controlled Trial. PLoS ONE. 2016;11(12):1-17. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0168746

4. Bessette, A., & Rousseau, C. M. (2012). Scoliosis causes, symptoms and treatment. Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

5. Zapata KA, Wang-Price SS, Sucato DJ. Six-Month Follow-up of Supervised Spinal Stabilization Exercises for Low Back Pain in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis. Pediatr Phys Ther. 2017 Jan;29(1):62-66. doi: 10.1097/PEP.0000000000000325. PMID: 27984472.

6. Scoliosis Back Pain: Symptoms and Relief. Published March 31, 2023. Accessed April 28, 2023. https://www.healthcentral.com/condition/scoliosis/scoliosis-back-pain

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