Scoliosis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments
Scoliosis, or curvature of the spine, often occurs when children are just entering puberty, which is a stressful enough time without also having to deal with a physical limitation. The cause is not always known, although rarer forms are connected to injury, muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy. Yet through a range of treatments, including physical therapy, scoliosis does not have to be disabling — or even noticeable.
What are warning signs of scoliosis?
In general, a lack of alignment in the upper body may indicate that a child has scoliosis. Specifically, if one hip and/or or one shoulder looks higher than the other, or one shoulder blade seems to be more easily discernible than the other, scoliosis may be a factor. In more advanced cases, back pain, a pronounced curve in the spine, or ribs that stick out noticeably on one side, can be a scoliosis indicator. Difficulty in breathing may occur, as your ribs press against one or both lungs.
What are common treatments for scoliosis?
Children with moderate and severe cases of scoliosis will probably need more intervention than physical therapy alone. Bracing is common for moderate scoliosis. A severe case — or one which is treated after most growing has occurred — may call for surgery. In mild cases, however, physical therapy may be enough. PT can additionally augment more aggressive treatment for moderate and severe cases.
How does physical therapy help scoliosis patients?
Your physical therapist can help you retrain your body to function more effectively with your particular alignment issues. In addition, physical therapy for scoliosis increases your range of motion, as well as builds strength in parts of your body which have been weakened through
Physical therapy is also useful for patients with scoliosis who have muscles and joints that have stiffened over time. Through manual therapy, your physical therapist can ease this tension, while redirecting movement. Electric stimulation, ice, and heat applications can also be beneficial for back pain and stiffness.