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Can Physiotherapy Help With Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a sideways (or lateral) curvature of the spine that is most commonly diagnosed and treated in adolescents between the ages of 9 and 14.

Although in many cases, scoliosis can have minimal to mild symptoms, sometimes, surgery is required for recovery and to avoid dangerous complications. One common question that comes up when discussing scoliosis is, “Can physiotherapy help scoliosis?” The answer is complicated, and that’s what we’ll dive into in this article. 

How Does Scoliosis Work? 

Scoliosis is most likely to manifest during adolescence. While for some people, scoliosis has a minimal effect; it can cause pain and affect physical function in more severe cases and can progress further if left untreated.

What is structural scoliosis?

Structural scoliosis is caused by anatomical variants in the spine, for example the vertebral body may be wedged.  Structural scoliosis can be likened to an ‘S’ shape — not only does the spine have a sideways curvature, but there is also a significant rotation of the spine present, which can give the body a skewed appearance. The ribs will be more prominent on one side of the back. Unfortunately, structural scoliosis is typically permanent; however, focused treatments may minimise its progression and allow for long-term management.

What is postural scoliosis?

Meanwhile, postural scoliosis usually results from poor long-term posture or physical irregularities and isn’t as severe. It normally results in muscle imbalances but there are no anatomical reasons that causes the scoliosis.  It’s interesting to note that postural scoliosis may actually ‘disappear’ when the patient bends forward or lies flat. This form of scoliosis is more easily treated and managed.  

Can Physiotherapy Help Scoliosis?

Physiotherapy (often shortened to simply ‘physio’) has a holistic approach to treating and restoring the entire human body rather than just one affected part. Physiotherapy stretches, exercises, and treatments can effectively be used to relieve pain in the joints, muscles, and bones. So, it’s only natural to ask whether physiotherapy can be used to treat and manage spinal pain and other symptoms of scoliosis. Thankfully, the answer is yes: physiotherapy can effectively relieve pain associated with scoliosis and maintain flexibility in the spine. 

Physiotherapy for Scoliosis Management 

Physiotherapists can successfully minimise the rate of progression in cases of structural scoliosis — and assist with long-term management of the condition. Meanwhile, postural scoliosis is more easily treated, as the primary cause tends to be poor posture. An expert physiotherapist can help you to maintain strength and spinal mobility, allowing you to effectively live with your scoliosis long-term.

While your physiotherapist will prescribe exercises specific to your condition, these are some examples of exercises to treat and manage your scoliosis:

  • Upper and low back rotational stretches — involving twisting your upper body left and right.
  • Door frame stretch — where you use an open doorway and your elbows to straighten your back and stretch the muscles in the front of your chest
  • The plank — laying on your stomach with your elbows and palms on the floor, with a straight spine.

Physiotherapy for Scoliosis Recovery

Unfortunately, while physiotherapy can be effective for managing and treating various forms of scoliosis (and benefiting the lymphatic, circulatory, and nervous symptoms as a happy by-product), physio treatments and solutions cannot cure them, as there is no complete treatment, cure, or reversal for scoliosis. 

However, adolescents and adults with scoliosis can still live a complete life with scoliosis. Physiotherapy can relieve the pain caused by scoliosis. The treatments can also increase your flexibility, mobility, and stability — not just in your spine but across your whole body, using the holistic approach to healing and treating physical ailments that physiotherapy is known for. 

Benefits of Physiotherapy for Scoliosis 

Although physiotherapy can never provide a complete cure for scoliosis, it can have the following benefits:

  •  Pain management, relief, and enhanced day-to-day comfort.
  • Minimising the progression of the condition.
  • Strengthening and stretching exercises that can maintain and increase stability in the spine.
  • Improved spine mobility and flexibility.
  • Posture correction and improvement.
  • Respiratory management.
  • Bracing of the spine.

Rather than focusing just on the spine, physiotherapy approaches scoliosis through a holistic lens, supporting not just the back but also the circulatory, nervous, and lymphatic systems.

Scoliosis Physiotherapy – Does it Really Work?

Yes — there’s no doubt that physiotherapy for scoliosis helps alleviate and manage symptoms of the condition, allowing those with scoliosis to live healthier lives. At NQ Physio, we understand the intricacies of the various scoliosis conditions, and our expert physiotherapists have years of experience in treating and managing both postural and structural scoliosis. Through our personalised physiotherapy services for scoliosis that reduce pain, enhance strength, improve flexibility, and promote overall well-being, we can help you. Let’s work together to manage your scoliosis and get you feeling more flexible, mobile, and happier. 

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