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  • Austin, TX 78746
  • 512-629-4431

    June 2024

    Key things to know for Managing back pain in Kids and Teens with Scoliosis

    Dr. Cassie Chonko, DPT, OCS, Advanced Scoliosis specialist performing a standing forward bend test.

    Scoliosis, a condition characterized by an abnormal curvature of the spine in 3 dimensions, doesn’t have to significantly impact your child. We all know that early detection is critical to ensure effective management but often is made difficult by the sensitivity and shyness of a growing teen to show you their spine. So, when your child starts to complain of back pain, it can be deeply alarming for parents. A young spine generally will not have pain regardless of whether they have scoliosis or not due to their healthy joint nutrition and flexibility.

    At ScolioAustin, we understand why this could worry you and would like to provide you with some answers to common questions and effective solutions grounded in evidence-based scoliosis-specific physical therapy practices.

    1. Skilled Assessment Is Key: Our physical therapists are specifically trained to conduct a detailed assessment of the spine, postural alignment and respiratory factors that more directly identify areas of weakness, tightness, or imbalance, caused by the scoliosis and the markers that could be contributing to their pain complaints. This helps us form a specific, personalized treatment plan for your child according to their age, curve pattern and lifestyle goals.

    2. Gradual Strengthening Exercises: Asymmetrical exercises and core engagement are often key components of a good program, but our therapists understand that it is important that the child understands where their body is in space and can hold themselves in midline before adding dynamic exercises to the mix. This means that we may start by addressing coordination, flexibility and balance first.

    3. Flexibility and Stretching Routines: Scoliosis spines often have predictable deficits in hamstrings, pecs and inner/outer thigh muscles that cause poor posture, rounded shoulders and hyper-extension at their knee and elbow joints. Stretches such as hamstrings, child’s pose, or piriformis (pigeon) are often integrated into daily routines to improve flexibility around the pelvis and reduce their pain complaints.

    4. Breathwork: We all breathe, so why do we need to teach this? Many of us do this so habitually that we don’t realize that our posture can dictate the mobility of our ribs or our tendency to use our shoulder/neck muscles to breathe instead of our chest and diaphragm. Mouth breathing is also a large contributor to poor oxygenation and fatigue because it doesn’t fill up the lungs as well as breathing through our nose. It’s important for our therapists to incorporate breathing re-education to allow kids to understand why their breathing is important and how, when done right, it will make them more energetic and feel better even when they aren’t exercising.

    5. Postural Education: Posture is a generic term used by many but do our kids actually know what it means beyond our comments of “sit up straight!” Posture, when looked at from the side, as well as from the back, plays an integral role on how rapidly a scoliosis can progress. Our therapists spend dedicated time to educate our young patients on where their body is in space, to start with, and how to be able to actively find their neutral and center position when they are in school, doing homework or even while they’re active. We believe their posture in how they sit, stand and sleep needs to be integrated into the habits of their daily lives if they are to be successful when an exercise program is added.

    Implementing these strategies for your child can make all the difference in how quickly your child’s back pain resolves, whether they will need a brace, how stable their spine is as they grow and even how much we can reduce their chances of progression throughout their teenage growth spurts.

    We would love to be your resource and work together with you to help your child improve their understanding and have control over their spine health so their scoliosis never becomes anything more important than a number on a piece of paper. We are here to guide and support you and your family every step of the way. Please feel free to contact us to discuss how we can utilize our specialized approach and knowledge to meet your child’s specific needs or to schedule a consultation with us.

    Thank you for trusting us with your child’s care.

    Starting in June, to celebrate Scoliosis Awareness Month, we are offering

    Adult and Children scoliosis workshops:

    Newly diagnosed? We have everything you need to know.

    Every Tuesday evening in June, 7 – 9 pm.

    Registration is limited to 10 people so sign up early

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    Take control of your scoliosis. Reach out to us today and get started on your path to better health and mobility.

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