How to Treat Scoliosis

Scoliosis is defined as a deviation of the normal vertical line of the spine. It is considered a 3-dimensional condition as it consists of a lateral curvature along with rotation of the vertebrae. When diagnosed as scoliosis the curvature of the spine is at 10 degrees. Approximately 80% of cases are idiopathic, the other 20% from congenital conditions, neuromuscular conditions and uneven leg lengths.

What are some of the treatment options for Scoliosis?

Some of the more conservative treatments include exercise therapy, bracing, manual therapy, electrical stimulation and insoles. Surgery options are used for severe curves and for curves that are progressing faster than normal. It is encouraged for conservative treatments to be considered prior to the surgical options.

For patients living with scoliosis the importance of specific exercise therapy can increase range of motion of the trunk area, strengthen the convex side, stretch concave side of the curve, stabilise around spine and create normal chest expansion. Ways to achieve this is practising corrective positions in activities of daily living such as, sitting down, standing and getting out of a chair. Improving proprioception control, balance, re-educating the central nervous system, this can be done using equipment such as a swiss ball and balance board. Using rotary torso exercises for joint mobility along with strengthening of the trunk. Exercise in conjunction with bracing can be valuable for treatment.

Bracing is when an individual wears a specific brace made from either soft or rigid material. There is a range of different types of braces available, the choice is dependent on the individuals age, angle of curve and where the curve is in the spine. The goal of bracing is prevention of a progressing curve. Majority of the bracing available needs to be worn for long hours each day (up to 23hrs/day) to have the best outcome.

Surgery is generally indicated When the spinal angle is 45 degrees. The main aim of surgery is to aid in preventing further progression, improve spinal alignment and help decrease pain. A spinal fusion is when two vertebrae are fused together, creating a more rigid, aligned position of the spine. Spinal rod insertion is when rods are anchored to either side of the spine to help create a corrected position. These rods can be expanded as the person grows which is more suited for younger age groups that are still growing and have yet to reach skeletal maturity.  

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