How to treat scoliosis
Scoliosis (latin), or skolios (greek) is a spine deviation, often known as ‘side spine deviation’. In fact, scoliosis is a three-dimensional deviation.
Picture: A 30° deviation in the thoracic curve and a 53° deviation in the lumbar curve.
Now a couple of useful facts regarding scoliosis theory.
Small degree scoliosis is not a big clinical issue. Do not believe in everything which is written in the blogs and internet forums. If your child has small shoulders or pelvis asymmetry, it does not mean that surgery is required. This kind of scoliosis does NOT cause pain, or prevent the child from playing sport. In fact, on the contrary!
Working as a corrective gymnastics instructor, I had a chance to observe all the issues discussed regularly in the media – especially about how the newer generation is weak regarding frequent movement. The simplest exercises are a huge challenge, mostly caused by a lack of bodily control. Low physical performance and inefficient motor-skills control is a bigger problem than insignificant spine deviation. More and more authors are debating exactly what the spine norm for any given population is. Our body is not supposed to look pretty, but be able to perform motor tests. This is why we need to encourage our children to be active. Let them experiment physically, and in the end even the biggest opponents to physical education will find an active hobby. It is important, however, not to focus solely on one physical discipline as it can lead to uncontrolled soft tissue pain. It is always better to begin physical activities under the supervision of a professional.
A different approach is needed for higher degree scoliosis. Most of these cases are idiopathic: of unknown origin. It is difficult for physiotherapists like us to fight the problem when we do not know the cause. It does not mean we are not trying though!
Being a corrective gymnastics instructor I have conducted 10 people classes. Each group exercised for 2 hours per week. From a time perspective I do not think this was a good solution. There is one basic argument against group classes: each child is different, with a different kind of scoliosis. This is why individual therapy is necessary! Group therapy can be useful only for small degree scoliosis. Ultimately it is a doctor’s or specialist’s job to decide how serious the scoliosis is. Connected with this point is the question of how to find a good specialist?
The first step is to ask around. Maybe somebody in your family or among your friends had a similar problem and we can learn from their recommendation (it is better to learn from other people’s mistakes!) I recommend against looking on the internet (blogs, forums) as it is becoming more popular to post fake statements regarding specific clinics. The second step is to schedule a consultation for your child to understand the therapy proposal and process. The therapist should test motor skills shortfalls, indicate the deviation direction, and propose some treatment program.
Parents and patients often ask how often rehabilitation is required. It all depends on how dedicated your child is to do the homework assigned by the therapist, and able to correctly exercise from a technique point of view. The parents must understand that scoliosis is a long-term process. A huge amount of repetition is needed to change the image of our spine from the brain’s point of view. Children are often not aware of what they need to do in order to improve their posture.
This is why stabilization exercises with a correct posture are so important. This article does not exhaust such a complex subject as scoliosis treatment. It is only a short guide to help you in the sea of information available on the internet. If someone is further interested, I would suggest reading professional literature. The complexity of this problem makes it very difficult to describe exercises for scoliosis in detail. In general, you can say the important thing is to stabilize the proper posture, strengthen weakened muscles, and stretch shrunken structures. Using the PNF method in such cases is recommended.