Scoliosis is a broad term given for a range of spinal conditions that affect the alignment and the curvature of the spine. There is no particular age that it starts at and can occur at any time and to anyone- whether the patient is an adolescent or nearing their 60s. However, if a patient has a condition like this, it is usually identified at an early age, around 10 to 15 years of age. Females are at a higher risk of developing this disease. With scoliosis, the severity ranges by a lot- it can vary from mild to life-threateningly severe, so the treatment plans allotted to the patient will also vary accordingly. Physiotherapy for back pain and scoliosis is appropriate and recommended depending upon the severity. It may be used as a treatment plan for mild cases, or as a post-surgery rehab technique to gain back functionality.

What Are the Different Types of Scoliosis?

There are varying types of scoliosis that can be differentiated by origin or etiology.  

Idiopathic scoliosis – This is the most common type of scoliosis diagnosed and makes up about 80 percent of the cases. This is usually diagnosed when all other symptoms and causes are ruled out. The term idiopathic means that the cause of the condition cannot be verified or determined. 

Congenital Scoliosis – As the name suggests, this type of scoliosis originates in the embryo and results in the misalignment or alteration of one or more vertebrae anywhere in the spine. These abnormalities alter the curvature of the spine and result in other deformities as regions of the spinal columns lengthen and grow at different or slower rates than the rest. These abnormalities are present at birth, therefore can be recognized, diagnosed, and treated from a very young age as compared to idiopathic scoliosis. 
Neuromuscular Scoliosis – This kind of scoliosis occurs alongside neurological and muscular diseases such as spinal muscular atrophy, Bifida, or even cerebral palsy. This kind of scoliosis is more dangerous and serious as it affects the neurological functioning of the body, progresses more rapidly, and demands immediate surgical treatment than other kinds of treatments.

Symptoms of Scoliosis

When it comes to scoliosis, your symptoms need to be a clear indication and differentiation for the same as there are multiple signs for this disease. Scoliosis does not just manifest itself as some kind of pain, as it also brings with it other signifiers. With idiopathic scoliosis, only a fraction of patients experienced back pain. The back pain also had other simultaneous pathological reasons. This is why when suspecting a case of scoliosis, look beyond a mild back discomfort, and look for other signs and symptoms like:

  • Uneven alignment of the shoulder, one shoulder blade may look higher than the other one. 
  • The alignment of the head is not proper. It is NOT centered directly above the pelvis. 
  • Hips are not aligned, one or both hips are raised unusually high. 
  • Your waist and ribcage may be uneven 
  • There are dimples, hairy patches and abnormal discoloyration near the skin overlapping the spine 
  • Your body is unable to hold straight and is leaning on one side

Also Read: Knee Stiffness – Causes, Treatment and Exercises

How to Diagnose Scoliosis?

Scoliosis needs proper medical attention and care by a medical professional. In your first visit, along with a clinical history assessment and a physical exam, your doctor will use the following avenues to get a closer look at the clinical picture to get an accurate diagnosis- 

  • XRAYs will ordered to get a closer look and figure out which kind of scoliosis you might have. This type of diagnostic imaging can help the doctor understand if the spine has aligned into an ‘s’ or a ‘c’ 
  • Cobb’s Angle is an important determinant when diagnosing scoliosis. Medical professionals will judge the severity of your condition by measuring the curvature known as Cobb’s Angle. For diagnosis, there must at least be an angle of 10 degrees present and angle ranging from 25-30 degrees is significant. However, curvatures exceeding 45 degrees are extremely severe cases and need immediate treatment.

How can Physiotherapy Help With Scoliosis?

In the beginning of this article, we had mentioned that the scale of treatment will depend on the severity of the disease. For significant cases, bracing and early surgical intervention are recommended to help prevent the problem from getting more serious. Physiotherapy at this point is quite important to help you regain your functionality and range of motion post-surgery. Your physiotherapist will comprehensively assess your situation and come up with a treatment plan that is individualized and made just for you.

Physiotherapy for scoliosis includes the following treatment options:

  • Massage therapies
  • Muscular Strengthening exercises 
  • Range of motion exercises 
  • Manual Therapies
  • Movement Manipulation 
  • Postural Correction 
  • Electrotherapy 
  • TENs Massaging 
  • Lifestyle Changes

Also Read: Osteoarthritis Physiotherapy Exercises

For more information about physiotherapy for scoliosis, head over to Phyt Health. Phyt Health is India’s first digital physiotherapy platform using 3D Imaging and Artificial Intelligence to accurately capture your movements and recommend relevant treatment plans. On the app, you will find a wealth of exercises that are curated by expert physiotherapists that you can perform in the comfort of your own home. You can also book an online video consultation with a physiotherapist on the app.