What is scoliosis?

Scoliosis is a three dimensional irregularity of the spine that is progressive in nature. It can affect both adults and children in different ways.

Functional scoliosis compared with Structural scoliosis:

Functional scoliosis is the appearance of an irregular shaped spine caused by factors controlling and moving the spine such as asymmetrical sized bones causing different length legs or tightening of muscles. Structural scoliosis is caused when the shape of the spine bones themselves are irregular causing the scoliosis. Both can be treated and the response will be determined on a case by case basis.

Scoliosis in children:

The most common form of scoliosis is called Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis. Idiopathic meaning unable to find a cause or origin of the deformity. Despite having an unknown cause there is often a genetic component.

Children affected by scoliosis is a more serious condition as a curve can rapidly progress as they grow into an adult.

Fortunately, children do not normally experience pain associated with their scoliosis however once they progress into adults, an untreated scoliosis can cause a range of symptoms including poor posture, pain, muscle spasm and weakness. In rare but severe cases scoliosis can affect the organs causing lung or heart problems.

Scoliosis in adults:

The most common form of adult scoliosis is Degenerative De-Novo Scoliosis (DDS). This is when a new curve develops in a fully matured spine as a result of change in spinal bone structure and integrity. The most common area affected is the lower back and occurs more often in females post-menopause.

The sooner scoliosis is detected, monitored and treated the less likely chance it will develop. If you’re concerned about scoliosis for yourself or your child, please don’t hesitate to book an osteopathic consultation to discuss your options. 

Have a look at this free web-based scoliosis screening tool if you are concerned you or your child has scoliosis. It’s called ScoliScreen and can be found by clicking the link below.

What are the benefits for treatment?

Treatment for scoliosis can reduce pain, improve function and improve posture in adults. For children our main goal is the stabilise the curve and prevent the child’s scoliosis from causing them a lot of pain and problems later in life.

Scoliosis treatment for children:

Treatment for mild to moderate scoliosis at our clinic is exercise therapy. Once a curve has been discovered we teach the child how to correct the curve, minimise compensations in the body and give them functional exercises to help transfer these skills into everyday activities. The main goal of treatment for scoliosis in children is to stabilise their curve. There is currently no evidence to support hands on treatment as a successful method to do this. That is why we focus on exercise therapy when treating anyone under the age of 16 years old. Manual therapy can be used to help with pain and tightness.

Scoliosis treatment for Adults:

Scoliosis treatment for adults uses a combination of exercises and manual therapy to help correct and stabilise the curve and reduce painful symptoms. Treatment consists of 50% exercise therapy and 50% manual therapy. Manual osteopathic treatment includes massage, joint mobilisation and balancing techniques.

SEAS (Scientific Exercise Approach to Scoliosis):

Here at the clinic we treat mild-moderate scoliosis using the SEAS approach or scientific exercise approach to scoliosis. As the name suggests, SEAS is based on clinical research to support exercise therapy to treat scoliosis. The aim of the SEAS program is to stabilise the curve and to lessen the curve over time.

SEAS uses a three-step process to stabilise your curve:

  • Teaching you how to correct your curve by using your own muscles once you have familiarised yourself with your body
  • Reducing the compensations related to your scoliosis and correction.
  • Introduce functional exercises to maintain this correction throughout daily life.

Each exercise routine is unique to the individual. On average the patient is expected to perform 10-30 minutes of exercises a day including static stretches. This is adjusted according to time availability and severity of the curve. As a rule of thumb, the more exercises you complete, the quicker your curve will improve.

During your initial consultation with the Osteopath you will discuss your treatment plan in detail. Please do not hesitate to come with a list of questions for the Osteopath to answer. Book an appointment today to start your Osteopathic scoliosis management.


References and Resources:

SEAS (Scientific Exercises Approach to Scoliosis): a modern and effective evidence based approach to physiotherapic specific scoliosis exercise
Romano M, Negrini Am Parzini S, Tavernaro M, Zaina F, Donzelli S and Negrini S 2015, Scoliosis 2015 10:3, DOI: 10.1186/s13013-014-0027-2

The effectiveness of combined bracing and exercise in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis based on SRS and SOSORT criteira: a prospective study
Negrini S, Donzelli S, Lusini M, Minnella S and Zaina F 2014, BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2014; 15: 263, Published online 2014 Aug 6. doi:  10.1186/1471-2474-15-263

Adult scoliosis treatment combing brace and exercises
Papadopolous D 2013, Scoliosis 20138(Suppl 2):O8, DOI: 10.1186/1748-7161-8-S2-O8

Please ask if you would like more references and research related to scoliosis and it’s treatment.

If you would like further information about Scoliosis please have a look at the Scolicare website. It is a great resource for information.