By Sydney CBD Osteopath Dr Abbey Davidson
Scoliosis is defined by a sideways curvature of the spine which commonly come in the form of “C” or “S” shapes, and this curvature can be responsible for placing stress on other structures in the spine, leading to pain. Scoliosis is more common in females, and is commonly detected during a growth spurt (usually between the ages of 10-14 for girls and 12-14 for boys). The causes of scoliosis can sometimes be unknown, but can be due to underlying neuromuscular conditions, birth defects, trauma or infection of the spine.
The common forms of Scoliosis include:
For help with your scoliosis at home, heat pack application can be used to assist muscular tightness. Using heat on the painful areas will promote blood flow, muscle repair and muscle relaxation. You can also ask your pharmacist or health care practitioner whether supplements could be of use for you. Supplements such as Vitamin D for bone health, and magnesium for muscle health, and often be useful.
Daily stretches may also be helpful in treating your scoliosis. There are two different methods of stretching which can be useful, one which encourages stretching with your curve and one which stretches against it. By visiting a health professional, you can find out which method would work best for you and they can teach you the best ways in which to perform these stretches.
Regular exercise is also recommended for those with mild scoliosis.
If you notice a curvature in you or your child’s spine, it is advisable to have it assessed, even if you believe it to be mild. In younger people, regular x-rays may be taken to monitor any changes in the spinal curve, especially through periods of growth. If you notice any rapid change in the curve, you should seek professional help as soon as possible.
A health professional, such as an Osteopath, Chiropractor or Physiotherapist, will take time to assess the curve and surrounding spinal regions to note associated restrictions and muscular tension. Special tests may be performed to establish if you are suffering from a true scoliosis and, if necessary, you may be referred for further imaging of the area.
Manual therapy techniques will aim to treat the symptoms secondary to the bony changes that cause scoliosis. While we cannot make changes to the bone, we can monitor the shape of your curve, ease tension in tight muscles and maintain spinal range of motion. Some sessions may involve the prescription of a tailored exercise and stretching regime to keep you progressing until your next appointment.
In some cases, referral for bracing or surgery may be recommended.