If you’re like me, you remember scoliosis screenings growing up–and you also probably had no idea what they were looking for. Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine is abnormally curved, often in the shape of an “S” or “C.” Curves are greater than 10 degrees are classified as scoliosis. The cause of scoliosis is unknown. However, as a slight curve does develop, muscles have greater mechanical advantage (think of arm wrestling) and the curve can accelerate. While mild cases can be asymptomatic, more severe cases can cause pain, discomfort, and even (rarely) difficulty breathing. While there is no known cure for scoliosis, individualized physical therapy can be an effective treatment option.
Physical Therapy for Scoliosis
Physical therapy for scoliosis typically involves exercises that help to improve the strength and flexibility of the muscles surrounding the spine. These exercises can help to correct the curvature of the spine and reduce pain and discomfort. In addition, physical therapy can help to improve posture and balance, which can also help to alleviate symptoms of scoliosis.
One type of physical therapy commonly used to treat scoliosis is called the Schroth method. This method is based on the idea that by properly aligning the spine and rib cage, it can help to reduce the curvature of the spine. The Schroth method includes a series of specific exercises and breathing techniques that are tailored to each individual’s specific scoliosis curve.
Another type of physical therapy for scoliosis is called the SEAS (Scientific Exercises Approach to Scoliosis) method. This method is based on the idea that by strengthening the muscles surrounding the spine, it can help to correct the curvature of the spine. The SEAS method includes a series of specific exercises that are tailored to each individual’s specific scoliosis curve.
Physical therapy can also be combined with other treatments for scoliosis, such as bracing or surgery. In some cases, physical therapy may be used as an alternative to surgery, especially for milder cases of scoliosis.
For most people, physical therapy can be an effective treatment option for scoliosis. It can help to improve the strength and flexibility of the muscles surrounding the spine, correct the curvature of the spine, reduce pain and discomfort, improve posture and balance. At The Motive in Oro Valley (just north of Tucson), our approach to scoliosis rehab is tailored to the individual. We are aware of methods like the Schroth method, but integrate that along with modern perspectives on self-management and functional exercise. It is important to consult with a physical therapist experienced in scoliosis treatment to know the best therapy plan for you.