Is Physical Therapy for Scoliosis Effective?

If you have scoliosis, there are many treatment options to manage your symptoms. In patients with milder cases of scoliosis, physical therapy can be an effective way to avoid surgery.

Physical therapy – used in conjunction with bracing – Is one of three proven treatments for scoliosis. The other two are observation in surgery.

Depending on the severity of your scoliosis and your age, your doctor will recommend one of these proven scoliosis options. Doctors recommend physical therapy and bracing when patients want a non-surgical way to treat their scoliosis curve if they believe it will help.

Many patients prefer physical therapy to surgical treatments because it is noninvasive and has fewer risks. If you think bracing and physical therapy could be right for you, read below for more information. You may want to speak with your doctor about your options to find out if nonsurgical scoliosis treatments will manage your symptoms.

How Does Physical Therapy Manage Scoliosis?

When you have a scoliosis curve, it will not straighten on its own. If you use a brace, it can stop your curves from getting worse but it won’t straighten out your spine.

If you want to correct your curve, you’ll need a spinal fusion procedure to make it happen. Unfortunately, there is no nonsurgical way to straighten out a scoliosis curve

Whether a doctor recommends bracing or surgery will depend on the person’s scoliosis curve and their age. For example, a child with mild scoliosis – generally defined as a curvature of less than 20° – may be more suitable for physical therapy treatments then a fully developed adult with a severe curve.

Once your doctor identifies your child’s scoliosis curve, he should check it every six months to see if it’s getting worse. Fully developed children need fewer follow up x-rays.

Depending on the severity of the curve, doctors generally prefer bracing for children with scoliosis because it is very effective at minimizing future curving. If a person is fully developed in their spine isn’t growing, a brace may be less effective at treating their scoliosis.

When Will a Doctor Recommend a Brace?

Doctors rely on several factors to determine if brace treatment will be effective for a patient. Typically, doctors will prescribe brace treatment if:

  • A moderate curve is present – between 20 and 40°
  • The patient’s curve is progressive and has increased by more than 5° since they were diagnosed with scoliosis

Or if:

  • The curve was at least 30° when it was first diagnosed
  • The patient is still growing and developing

If you have other health conditions, your doctor will take them into consideration before they recommend a brace. They’ll also consider your family history to make their recommendation.

Does Physical Therapy/Bracing Work for Scoliosis?

Modern research shows that bracing can be an effective way to manage scoliosis and start a spinal curve from getting worse. If your child uses physical therapy and a brace to manage their scoliosis, their curve will likely lesson throughout the duration of their treatments. However, braces may be less effective for adults with fully developed spines and larger scoliosis curves.

If your child wears a brace and it corrects their scoliosis curve, understand this isn’t a permanent solution. Over time, most scoliosis curves reform and return to their original angle. Some individuals don’t experience this issue, but it’s common among most people who use brace treatments.

When you’re using a brace and physical therapy to treat scoliosis, it’s important to wear it as much as possible. Studies show that wearing the brace for as long as possible will increase its effectiveness. According to research, wearing a brace for six hours a day or fewer is not effective at all but using it more than 16 hours a day can greatly minimize a person’s need for surgery.

In rare cases, scoliosis curves me continue growing during brace treatments. This isn’t a normal occurrence, but it something for patients and parents to be aware of before entering physical therapy to treat scoliosis.

If you want a permanent solution to your scoliosis, the only guaranteed way to prevent future curbing is spinal fusion surgery. Bracing and physical therapy can be effective ways to slow the progression of scoliosis, but they do not guarantee permanent results like surgical treatments. If your curve isn’t severe, correcting your spine completely may not be necessary. But individuals with severe scoliosis may need surgery regardless of physical therapy treatments to correct their spine and Stop the condition from getting worse. Call us today at 205-637-1363.

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