Scoliosis – Typical Signs and Recommended Treatment
One of the most common concerns people bring up during their appointment is their ‘Scoliosis’. Scoliosis is one of those conditions that might sound scary and worrisome, however is surprisingly common and very manageable with physiotherapy. Most people have some form of mild scoliosis which does not interfere with their day to day function. Some elite athletes even win gold medals with scoliosis! Just Google search ‘Usain Bolt scoliosis’ to see for yourself! In some more severe cases of scoliosis, the curve in the spine can be so extreme that it interferes with healthy lung function, however these presentations are much rarer.
The word scoliosis is derived from the Greek word for bent or curved and is used today to describe the lateral curve in the spine caused by the condition. Scoliosis commonly presents as one curve, called a C-curve, or two curves, called an S-curve and is classified as either structural or non-structural.
Scoliosis can appear at any age, but it most commonly occurs just prior to hitting puberty. It is a condition characterised by abnormal curvature of the spine, and the reason for this occurrence is not well understood. Idiopathic scoliosis (meaning scoliosis with an unknown cause) is the most common form, but conditions including cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, birth defects and spina bifida have also been linked to the development of some categories of scoliosis.
Whilst it is normal for your spine to curve forward and backward, sideways curving is abnormal and will need to be managed. In this blog post, Erko Physio shares some information on idiopathic scoliosis and the range of treatment options available to you.
When Does Scoliosis Occur?
Idiopathic scoliosis mainly occurs during childhood or adolescence, but it can also occur later in life. Scoliosis is classified according to the age of onset:
- Infantile – infants less than 2 years old with a recognisable curvature of the spine. In some cases, many of the curves can resolve with age.
- Juvenile Idiopathic – curvature developed between the ages of 2 and 10 years.
- Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis – curvature developed during adolescence. More girls are affected by this condition than boys.
- Degenerative Scoliosis (or Adult Onset Scoliosis) – curvature may occur later in life. Often the cause is unknown, but aging and natural spine degeneration may be contributing factors.
Signs of Scoliosis
It can be easy to miss the signs of scoliosis, particularly within children. Curves normally appear around the thoracolumbar and thoracic region of the spine. Typical symptoms might include difficulty with deep breathing, soreness or tightness along the spine or hips/shoulders of differing height.
Early diagnosis is important, as this will allow early intervention and limit the progression of the condition. Spine screening is recommended to take place between the age of 11-14, and here at Erko Physio we can carry out these examinations. We will take a close look at your spine as well as your pelvis, rib cage, shoulders, legs and feet to check for any abnormalities. If necessary, we will refer you for X-rays or an EOS scan to confirm the diagnosis and gain a better understanding of the severity of your condition.
Spinal physiotherapy will be the best course of treatment except in severe cases, which may require surgery. Physio treatment is aimed at reducing the symptoms, and it may involve:
- Full body spinal screen of cervical, thoracic, lumbar spine, inducing upper and lower limb assessments to highlight contriubtors to scoliosis
- Relaxation of the muscles through soft tissue releas
- Joint mobilisation and manipulation to relieve compressed/tight joints
- Dry needling to ease spinal muscular tension
- Strengthening exercises to address weak postural muscles
- Specific stretches to relieve tight muscles around the spine
- Postural assessment and postural advice with helpful cues
- Taping of the spine to aid in the awareness of correct postures
- Tailored exercises centred around pain management and movement quality
Your physiotherapist will develop a treatment program which caters specifically to your needs and the severity of your condition. It is also important to remain in close contact with other health professionals involved in the management of your condition.
Erko Physio – Your Partner in Condition Management
Although scoliosis may be problematic for some, the good news is that your symptoms can be managed. In many cases our patients are able to return to their normal daily routine following appropriate treatment aimed at reducing inflammation and pain levels, as well as increasing strength and mobility to maintain an active lifestyle. We’ve been providing dependable physiotherapy services to Sydney’s inner west and east since 2009, and our team have a strong understanding of scoliosis based on practical experience and evidence-based research.
Schedule a session with Erko Physio today, we’ve got you covered.