June Scoliosis Awareness Month
This is a time to educate our community about this condition, promote early detection and encourage conservative treatment of small curves before they become bigger and/or painful. Scoliosis is a medical condition that causes rotation and deviation of the spine in varying severity. It is a common condition usually “diagnosed” in 3-5% of our younger population (ages 10-14) but there are so many more that go undiagnosed until they are adults.
Early detection of scoliosis can help prevent scoliosis curves from worsening and can make treatment more effective while their spines are in their prime growing years. A quick and easy option is to ensure our children are getting effectively screened for scoliosis as a part of their regular check-ups. Counter to popular belief, once a child has stopped growing, doesn’t mean their spine has stopped twisting. Research reports that even the most stable spines may continue to progress through adulthood at a rate of 0.5 to 1 degree a year. That means that diagnosing scoliosis in adulthood and providing Schroth based physical therapy exercises can still be an important and effective option for maintaining a strong, pain-free spine for life. Scoliosis and its treatment are NOT just for kids anymore.
The most common forms of scoliosis include idiopathic (unknown origin), congenital (at birth), neuromuscular (caused by other medical conditions) and DeNovo (onset over 35). Scoliosis can vary from mild to severe, right to left, with or without compensations. Treatment options depend on the degree of curvature, age of the person and co-morbidities. Mild cases may have shorter periods of Schroth treatment while more severe cases benefit most from a combination of Schroth and bracing or surgery. Bracing is the most common non-surgical treatment for scoliosis when the curve reaches 25 degrees. Compliance with a Schroth PSSE program for 30 minutes a day, 4-5 days a week, along with bracing, has shown to help slow or stabilize the curve’s progression during adolescence. Braces are custom-made for each individual and are worn for 16-21 hours per day for maximum effectiveness. Once curves reach 45 degrees, an orthopedic surgeon is typically brought in for consultation to discuss surgical options but age of the child, PSSE exercise compliance, muscle tone, brace success, pain levels and quality of life are often considered before such a significant life-changing decision is made.
The Schroth Method uses PSSE (Physiotherapeutic Scoliosis Specific Exercises) specifically to elongate the spine, correct imbalances in muscle strength, and improve overall posture. PSSE differs significantly from traditional physical therapy because it creates a tailored, 3-dimensional program that identifies and treats the primary curve apart from its compensating and counter-rotating curves. This is important because time and energy aren’t wasted on areas that aren’t going to have the most effectiveness. Because scoliosis, and really our bodies in general, move in 3D, three-dimensional corrective exercises are necessary for maintaining resilience of the spine in a way that mimics everyday life.
While PSSE research has struggled due to the chaotic nature of AIS and the varying degrees of patient compliance, the fact remains that it CAN provide each person with a clearer understanding of their curve pattern, how to function effectively day to day under the effects of gravity and how to effectively exercise for their curve. At ScolioAustin, we understand the importance of going beyond Scoliosis Specific Physical Therapy. We have worked tirelessly to grow a strong and knowledgeable network of doctors, orthopedic MDs, orthotists, massage therapists, Yoga/Pilates instructors and women’s health specialists that understand what it means to treat your unique spine and other problems that might arise from it.
In conclusion, Scoliosis Awareness Month gives us the opportunity to raise awareness about this common medical condition and promote early detection and treatment. Don’t forget —Every big curve started small! We are here to encourage everyone to seek out early detection opportunities at school, at your pediatrician or here at ScolioAustin Scoliosis and Spine PT. Research supports that catching more curves when they are small can help to reduce the number of life-changing surgeries that people experience. If you, or someone you love, has scoliosis, or just wants to have their posture assessed, reach out to us today at 512-629-4431 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here for all your spine and scoliosis questions.