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.
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.
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.
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.
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.