What is Scoliosis Physical Therapy? (with pictures)

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Physical therapy may help alleviate scoliosis pain.
Physical therapy may help alleviate scoliosis pain.

Scoliosis physical therapy is a conservative treatment approach to scoliosis, a skeletal condition characterized by a curvature of the spine. Physical therapy can be combined with other treatments or used alone, depending on a patient's situation and the recommended approach to treatment. There is some argument in the medical community about the effectiveness of physical therapy for scoliosis treatment. Several studies have shown that it can be helpful in certain types of cases, and should be considered a viable treatment option.

Scoliosis causes curvature of the spine.
Scoliosis causes curvature of the spine.

Many cases of scoliosis take the form of idiopathic scoliosis, meaning that there is no known cause for the curvature. The spine starts to curve to one side or the other in childhood or early adolescence, and the curvature can become quite severe. Treatment of scoliosis is generally focused on stopping the progression of the curvature. Treatment plans used depend on the specifics of the case. As a general rule, the more rapidly intervention is provided, the better the possible outcome for the patient, which is one reason why checks for scoliosis are recommended for young children, so that bending of the spine can be identified early.

Physical therapy can help stop the spinal curvature in cases of mild scoliosis.
Physical therapy can help stop the spinal curvature in cases of mild scoliosis.

In the case of scoliosis physical therapy, the patient works with a physical therapist on a regular basis, and performs exercises at home, sometimes with the assistance of a family member. It is important to see a physical therapist who has experience with scoliosis physical therapy, and often people work simultaneously with a clinician and a physical therapist to ensure that the course of treatment remains appropriate and effective.

Many physical therapy exercises are designed to reduce inflammation and promote greater agility.
Many physical therapy exercises are designed to reduce inflammation and promote greater agility.

In physical therapy, patients are taken through stretches and bends to improve flexibility, strength, and tone, and to reduce inflammation. The patient may be encouraged to do yoga and similar forms of exercise, and the physical therapist can offer massage and manual manipulation as part of scoliosis physical therapy sessions. The home exercises are designed to help the body retain the benefits of the physical therapy.

Massage and manual manipulation may be used in scoliosis physical therapy.
Massage and manual manipulation may be used in scoliosis physical therapy.

For mild scoliosis, physical therapy can help to arrest the spinal curvature. In other instances, scoliosis physical therapy may need to be used with bracing and more aggressive treatments such as surgery. A doctor can evaluate a patient to determine which treatment option would be most helpful, and can make recommendations about care providers to see while developing a treatment plan. People should be careful to make sure that they are evaluated for potential causes of scoliosis, as some causes can complicate treatment.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

lovealot

I remember that all the girls in junior high had to go in to see the nurse to be tested for spine scoliosis. I don't know why it seems to be much more common in girls.

One of my daughter's friends had scoliosis and did wear a brace for a while. But she also had physical therapy to help correct it.

If a child of eight to nine years was diagnosed with it, I think that it would be difficult to get the child to do daily exercise. I don't know how you would convince them of the importance of doing the prescribed exercises.

sherlock87

@behaviourism- I have a friend who had scoliosis physical therapy, plus some chiropractic care as well, I think. I know she never got surgery either, and I think she's fine now.

I think it does depend a lot on your personal case as to whether or not you need to get surgery or a brace, but I'm glad some people are lucky and can avoid it.

behaviourism

I was about eleven when I was diagnosed with mild curvature of the spine. Scoliosis that minor doesn't really need serious rehabilitation or physical therapy, but I did go to a chiropractor for several years, at first really regularly. I think that my posture is pretty good now, and I am glad I didn't take the route of a brace or surgery like some of my friends did; their spine curves were worse, but they also still have problems to this day with their scoliosis symptoms.

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    • Physical therapy may help alleviate scoliosis pain.
      Physical therapy may help alleviate scoliosis pain.
    • Scoliosis causes curvature of the spine.
      Scoliosis causes curvature of the spine.
    • Physical therapy can help stop the spinal curvature in cases of mild scoliosis.
      Physical therapy can help stop the spinal curvature in cases of mild scoliosis.
    • Many physical therapy exercises are designed to reduce inflammation and promote greater agility.
      Many physical therapy exercises are designed to reduce inflammation and promote greater agility.
    • Massage and manual manipulation may be used in scoliosis physical therapy.
      Massage and manual manipulation may be used in scoliosis physical therapy.
    • When done correctly and carefully, yoga can help keep the spine flexible and strong.
      When done correctly and carefully, yoga can help keep the spine flexible and strong.