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What Are the Benefits of Physiotherapy for Scoliosis?

By Paul Cartmell
Updated Feb 11, 2024
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Physiotherapy for scoliosis is a type of therapy with mixed reviews and the benefits of exercise-based physiotherapy are disputed by different groups. Scoliosis is a condition that often causes a curvature of the spine, typically in a C- or S-shape. After treatment and training by a physiotherapists and other medical professionals, patients are expected to perform exercises on a daily basis to maintain the flexibility and movement of the spine at its current level. No known cure is available for people diagnosed with scoliosis, though treatments are provided to reduce the effects of pain in the spine. Physiotherapy treatments include hydrotherapy, massage, exercise, and education on maintaining and improving levels of curvature.

Scoliosis is a medical condition in which the diagnosed person has a sideways curve in the spine, with different levels of curvature seen in patients. The condition is mostly seen in children and teenagers, but people of any age can be diagnosed with scoliosis. Milder cases of the condition do not have a negative effect on the person, with physiotherapy for scoliosis teaching techniques including breathing exercises to help to alleviate any symptoms.

The use of exercises in physiotherapy treatments is often used in an attempt to correct posture and weight distribution problems caused by scoliosis. Due to the nature of curvature of the spine, it is common for him or her to stand with the spine not positioned in a straight line, it may feel straight to the patient. Thoracic curve correction exercises require the patient to stand with arms stretched upwards and the spine held in a straight position guided by the physiotherapist to train the body to straighten the curvature as much as possible. This exercise benefits the patient by training him or her to feel the correct position of the spine, rather than accepting the abnormal positioning as normal.

Curvature affecting the distribution of weight across the feet can benefit from physiotherapy for scoliosis exercises. Heel lifts can strengthen the muscles of the leg and pelvic region that have become weakened over years of standing with the weight of the body predominantly on one leg with the knee bent. Use of physiotherapy exercises can assist the patient in training his or her body to redistribute the weight more evenly across the feet.

Various countries around Europe prescribe physiotherapy and exercise treatments following the diagnosis of scoliosis in children and adults. Its use is not common in some countries, including the U.S. and the U.K. German medical professionals, for example, use physiotherapy for scoliosis treatments and teach the patients exercises to relieve pain and maintain levels of flexibility.

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