You’ve been diagnosed with scoliosis– now what? It can be overwhelming and you probably have many questions. You might wonder, can my scoliosis be cured? Or, can scoliosis go away on its own? What happens if I do nothing and just wait and see? Will I need surgery to straighten my spine? Will it get worse if I do nothing?
Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer, and scoliosis typically does not go away on its own. Scoliosis is progressive, however, in many cases, we can slow or reduce the amount the curve progresses with specific exercises and/ or a brace.
The exact treatment for scoliosis might depend on the severity of the curve and the age of the person. To learn more about the different types of scoliosis, the most common form, and the different management options, read on.
Treatment to correct and slow the progression of the spine’s curve depends on the type of scoliosis you have. There are 4 main types of scoliosis.
This is a spinal curvature that develops due to a dysfunction or an abnormality elsewhere in the body. Leg length discrepancy, muscle spasms on one side of the body, and always carrying an object such as a purse or computer bag on one side of the body can all be reasons for functional scoliosis to develop. Functional scoliosis is generally flexible and can be improved with stretching, strengthening, and postural awareness exercises.
Typically functional scoliosis does not require treatment.
This type of scoliosis usually occurs due to improper development of the spine’s bones. Often this form of scoliosis requires aggressive treatment intervention such as surgery.
Degenerative scoliosis affects older adults due to arthritic changes in the spine. Degenerative scoliosis could also be seen in adults with vertebral compression, fractures, disc degeneration, and osteoporosis. Frequently degenerative scoliosis is seen in the lumbar spine and can be a factor in low back pain.
The cause of the development of AIS is unknown, which is why it is termed ‘idiopathic’. 80% of people with scoliosis have AIS, making it the most common type of scoliosis.
Adolescent girls between 10-18 years old are primarily affected by this type of scoliosis. In AIS, the convex side of the curve typically points toward the right side of the body. The curvature also rotates backward on the convex side making it a 3D curve.
For the rest of this blog, we will discuss AIS.
The treatment approach and how aggressive the intervention is depends on the
If, when diagnosed, the Cobb angle is less than 20 degrees, a physician may recommend a wait-and-see approach before recommending physical therapy or bracing. However, growth and development can trigger the progression of AIS. At Scoliosis PT Jax, we do not recommend this approach. We advocate for starting physical therapy intervention at the time of diagnosis to begin strengthening and correcting postural deviations as soon as possible.
An option often presented to children still growing and diagnosed with AIS is bracing. This treatment method aims not to cure or correct scoliosis but to prevent the curve of the spine from worsening. We know that scoliosis rotates more during periods of rapid growth. Bracing is successful at holding a curve stable during these rapid growth periods. Bracing is usually considered when the curve of the spine is between 25-30 degrees, and the individual is still growing.
Bracing can have varying results. The research shows a direct correlation between the success of the brace and the number of hours the individual wears the brace. In other words, the more hours the brace is worn each day the better the chance it will stop the progression of the curve. Combining bracing with physical therapy intervention has the best chance for curve reduction and decreased progression.
Scoliosis Specific Physical therapists are certified in treating scoliosis and are recognized by SOSORT– the international Society on Scoliosis Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Treatment. The method for managing scoliosis begins with understanding the curve and the way it rotates both sideways and back to front. Then mindful movement and breathwork work to open up the curves concave or “closed” areas. An emphasis is placed on body awareness exercises to strengthen, improve function, and reduce spinal curvature and rotations.
Here at ScoliosisPTJax, we utilize the Schroth Method to manage and correct scoliosis and spinal curvature. We begin with elongation or lengthening the spine, and then move to align the pelvis and 3D correction of the spine. The movements are very mindful and strengthen the body from within.P
Surgery should only be considered for severe cases of scoliosis such as:
It’s important to keep in mind that surgery is still not considered a “cure” for scoliosis. The main focus of surgery is to stabilize the spine and reduce the curve, not treat or fix the underlying reasons for scoliosis development.
If surgery is the chosen treatment option, it is crucial to pair it with physical therapy before and after for the best functional outcome.
The short answer, no. It’s a condition that is progressive, meaning if nothing is done it can get worse. However, it can be managed with scoliosis-specific physical therapy intervention. This individualized treatment can strengthen the curve and help prevent the worsening and progression of the curve.
If you or someone you know has scoliosis, contact us for more information on how we can help manage your scoliosis naturally with the Schroth Method.