Physical Therapy for Scoliosis

man with scoliosis being treated with physical therapyWhat is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is defined as an unnatural curvature of the spine. The vertebrae in your spine can sometimes develop incompletely or fused together at wrong angles. This can be seen in the form of unusual bends or angles. The bend can become visible and create uneven shoulders or hips. Scoliosis can also affect the lungs’ ability to function, making it much harder to breathe.

Causes and Symptoms of Scoliosis

80% of Scoliosis cases are idiopathic without an obvious source, but there are three additional designations that stem from known causes.

  • Functional scoliosis is a condition in which the spine appears to be normal but develops abnormalities as a result of other underlying issues in the body. This may be caused by one leg being naturally shorter, carrying heavy unequal loads, or by any form of muscle spasms located in the back.
  • Neuromuscular scoliosis is where the bones of the spine encounter problems during formation. Usually, the bones of the spine fail to separate during fetal development or fail to form completely.
  • Degenerative scoliosis is caused by age and changes in the spine due to spondylosis (a type of arthritis). Weakened tissue and ligaments within the spine can lead to an inevitable curvature and other health risks. Osteoporosis, disc degeneration, and compression can all lead to this type of scoliosis.

What can MOTION do for you?

Here at MOTION, our team of professionals will help you to understand scoliosis and work with you to figure out what your next course of action should be. Our team can help patients who are searching for physical therapy manage scoliosis symptoms of any type before they worsen.

The Importance of Early Detection

Scoliosis can develop in early childhood, but may still get worse with growth or age, potentially to the point of permanent disablement. If you think your child may be developing a curvature within their spine, it may be time to contact a physical therapist to discuss your options. Children who have been diagnosed at a young age are taught to wear a brace, which can be a helpful preventative measure to prevent the spine from becoming too curved as they grow older. During your visit, we will discuss with you some of the potential causes of the condition, which include:

  • Severe infections in the spine
  • Congenital disabilities
  • Birth defects
  • Age (Puberty or Old Age)
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Sex Predisposition (Women are at higher risk)
  • Injuries to the spine
  • Tumors
  • Marfan syndrome
  • Down syndrome

Since scoliosis usually begins in early infancy, it’s essential for parents or caretakers to identify some of the symptoms for early detection. The key to early treatment of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is the prompt early identification of the condition. Adolescent symptoms that parents and caretakers can be on the lookout for may include:

  • The child leans to one side
  • Their head appears slightly off-center
  • A bulge appears on one side of their chest
  • One shoulder blade appears to be higher than the other
  • Their clothes do not fit properly on the shoulder
  • Their legs are uneven in length but not size
  • They suffer from chest pain or breathlessness due to pressure on the heart and lungs

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your child’s health, please contact your family doctor for a diagnosis and a physical therapist for treatment options.

Treatment for Scoliosis

Physical therapy is the key to treating scoliosis. In severe cases, invasive surgery might be required to correct the issue. Given that scoliosis is a degenerative disease that worsens with time, early detection and treatment can save you from an expensive surgical procedure. The pain that accompanies your scoliosis can also be treated and managed. Physical therapy is a great option to manage scoliosis symptoms in any individual, regardless of age or other complications.

An examination with your doctor will help to analyze things like muscle strength, reflexes, and any areas of numbness. You may need diagnostic imaging tests to rule out any other problems that could cause spinal curvature. This will help to determine if your scoliosis is caused by age or by an external factor. There is no cure for scoliosis, only preventative measures, and reactive measures can assist the condition. From there, your diagnosis will help our team to determine the right care routine for you.

The most common practice for treating a child suffering from scoliosis is to implement a brace for support. Juvenile idiopathic scoliosis has the highest risk of complications over time. By far, bracing might be the best option for long-term treatment in order to minimize future issues. The significance of wearing a brace is that it can potentially prevent further progression and development of the spinal curve. The most common type of brace is made of contoured body-confirming plastic and can often fit discreetly underneath your clothing.

Sleep Positioning – Important for Scoliosis Management

Sleep positioning is an efficient method to decrease your discomfort. A curved spine or stiff brace can cause you to toss and turn at night, unable to get comfortable. That is why special sleeping positions or techniques might be useful for alleviating that worry. You will want to invest in a firm mattress with a fair amount of pillow support. A sagging or soft bed will not provide you with the necessary support for your back. Your main objective is to close any gap that exists between your body and the mattress. Sleeping on your side can keep the spine straight and neutral, which can minimize strain on the spine’s nerves while sleeping on your back distributes your weight evenly across your body’s widest surface. Using pillows to fill in the gaps in these positions can cause instant relief. For guidance on proper sleep positioning techniques, contact our physical therapists at MOTION for more information.

At-Home Treatment for Scoliosis

To help manage scoliosis, our physical therapists will manipulate your spine into a comfortable range of motion. By performing careful bends on key pressure points, your physical therapist can more properly align the spine to manage the pain and discomfort associated with scoliosis. Chiropractic manipulations and exercise therapy can help to straighten and strengthen your back muscles that surround the spine to increase stability. Lower back pain is commonly treated with the assistance of physical therapy. Our spinal services include massages, stretches, and exercises carefully curated to help your spine move without pain. By undergoing these treatment methods, your pain could subside and you may feel more comfortable.

Here are some exercises that you can do at home that might be included in your physical therapy regimen:

  • Step down and one-arm reach
  • Split stance with arm reach
  • Upward and downward dog

For more information on our spinal services, we encourage you to contact our team at MOTION to learn more about local caregivers in your area. We look forward to hearing from you.