What is scoliosis

Scoliosis is a complex spinal condition that involves abnormal sideways curvature of the spine. While its exact cause may not always be identifiable, healthcare professionals can effectively manage the condition through early detection, appropriate treatment, and ongoing monitoring to improve the quality of life for those affected. It is a common spinal condition characterized by an abnormal sideways curvature of the spine (backbone). This curvature can take on either a C-shaped or S-shaped appearance, depending on the severity and location of the abnormal curvature. While the precise cause of scoliosis remains elusive, medical experts believe that it can result from a combination of factors, including genetic predisposition, neurological disorders, muscle imbalances, or congenital anomalies.

Causes of scoliosis

Scoliosis predominantly occurs during periods of rapid growth, such as adolescence, and is more prevalent in females. What causes scoliosis is generally unknown. However, there are several identified types with known causes, such as congenital scoliosis (present at birth due to vertebral malformation), neuromuscular scoliosis (resulting from conditions like cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy), and degenerative scoliosis (developing in older adults due to age-related degeneration of the spine).


Scoliosis and Physiotherapy Treatment
Scoliosis and Physiotherapy


Symptoms of scoliosis

The manifestations of scoliosis vary from mild cases that may go unnoticed for years to severe instances that lead to noticeable deformities and potential complications. Symptoms may include uneven shoulders, an asymmetrical waistline, rib prominence, and an unbalanced posture. In more severe cases, scoliosis can interfere with lung and heart function, limiting the affected individual’s respiratory capacity and overall physical performance.

How to know if you have scoliosis

How to Notice Signs of Scoliosis:

  • The curve of the spine typically changes very slowly and may not be easily recognized until it becomes more severe. 
  • Scoliosis may cause the head to appear off-center or one hip or shoulder to be higher than the opposite side. 
  • You may also notice a more obvious curve on one side of the rib cage on your back due to twisting of the vertebrae and ribs. 
  • Severe scoliosis can make it more difficult for the heart and lungs to work properly, leading to chest pain and shortness of breath.

In most cases, scoliosis is not painful, but there are certain types of scoliosis that can cause upper back pain and lower back pain.

Diagnosing scoliosis with xray and MRI

Diagnosing scoliosis involves a thorough physical examination, followed by imaging tests like X-rays or MRI scans to assess the severity and precise location of the curvature. Early detection and treatment are crucial to managing scoliosis effectively. Treatment options depend on factors such as the patient’s age, the severity of the curvature, and the risk of progression. Non-surgical treatments, like bracing and physical therapy, are often employed for mild to moderate cases to prevent further curvature progression and alleviate discomfort. In more severe cases or when non-surgical methods prove insufficient, corrective surgery may be recommended to straighten the spine and stabilize it with implants or rods.

The prognosis for individuals with scoliosis varies depending on the severity and response to treatment. Regular monitoring is essential to assess any changes in the curvature and to adjust treatment plans accordingly. Living with scoliosis may require certain lifestyle modifications, including exercises to strengthen the back and core muscles and the adoption of proper body mechanics to reduce strain on the spine.

How to fix scoliosis 

Scoliosis treatment varies depending on the severity of the curvature, the age of the patient, and the risk of progression. The primary goal of treatment is to prevent further curvature progression, manage symptoms, and improve the patient’s quality of life. The specific treatment options include:

1. Observation:

In cases of mild scoliosis, especially in children who are still growing, close monitoring may be the initial approach. Regular check-ups with the orthopedic specialist can help track any changes in the curvature over time. If the curvature remains stable and doesn’t progress significantly, no further intervention may be necessary.

2. Bracing:

Bracing is often recommended for children and adolescents with moderate scoliosis to halt the progression of the curvature. Braces are custom-made to fit the patient’s body and are typically worn for several hours a day. The brace applies corrective pressure on the spine to guide it towards a more normal alignment. Compliance with wearing the brace is crucial for its effectiveness.

3. Physical Therapy (Physiotherapy):

Physical therapy plays a vital role in scoliosis treatment. Specially designed exercises and stretches can help improve muscle strength and flexibility, which may reduce the degree of spinal curvature and provide pain relief. Physical therapists can also educate patients on maintaining proper posture and body mechanics to minimize strain on the spine.

4. Schroth Method:

The Schroth Method is a specialized form of physical therapy specifically tailored for scoliosis patients. It focuses on correcting imbalances in the muscles and breathing techniques to promote better spinal alignment.

5. Electrical Stimulation:

In some cases, electrical stimulation of the muscles may be used to help strengthen and retrain specific muscle groups, promoting a more balanced posture.

6. Surgical Intervention:

When scoliosis progresses significantly, causes severe pain, or poses a risk to organ function, surgery may be recommended. The most common surgical procedure for scoliosis is spinal fusion, wherein metal rods, hooks, screws, or wires are used to straighten the spine and hold the vertebrae together until they fuse into a solid, stable structure. This procedure helps prevent further curvature progression and may alleviate pain and discomfort.

Surgery is generally considered a last resort, reserved for cases that have not responded to other treatments or cases with severe deformities. The decision to undergo surgery is carefully evaluated by the medical team, taking into account the potential benefits, risks, and the individual’s overall health and lifestyle.

It is important to note that scoliosis treatment is often a lifelong process, especially when diagnosed during childhood or adolescence. Regular follow-ups with healthcare professionals are necessary to monitor the condition’s progress and adjust the treatment plan as needed. With appropriate care and management, individuals with scoliosis can lead active, fulfilling lives and minimize the impact of the condition on their daily activities.

Exercises for scoliosis

Exercises for scoliosis play a crucial role in managing the condition and can complement other treatment approaches. While exercises alone cannot reverse the curvature, they can help improve muscle strength, flexibility, and posture, which may reduce discomfort and prevent further progression. It is essential for individuals with scoliosis to consult with a qualified physical therapist or healthcare professional before starting any exercise regimen to ensure it is tailored to their specific needs and curvature type. Common exercises for scoliosis focus on strengthening the core, back, and abdominal muscles, as well as stretching tight muscles to promote better spinal alignment. The Schroth Method, a specialized scoliosis-specific exercise program, is a widely adopted way of treatment, focusing on three-dimensional breathing and correcting imbalances in the muscles. Regular practice of prescribed exercises can contribute to improved posture, reduced discomfort, and enhanced overall physical well-being for individuals living with scoliosis.

What are the physiotherapy treatments for Scoliosis?

Physiotherapy is helpful in the treatment of scoliosis, especially in non-structural cases where the cause may be corrected.

Our therapists at heal360 Physioclinic can help in the following ways:

  • Assess and treat areas of postural pain and muscle tightness
  • Provide advice on appropriate posture and postural correction/alignment
  • Provide advice on pain prevention and management techniques
  • Clinical Pilates
  • Schroth Treatment Method
  • Referral to an orthotist for consideration of bracing or lycra splinting if appropriate.

Call our therapist to see how we can help on your scoliosis: 62244178 or 96390509 or EMAIL US