Osteopathic Treatment of Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a disorder that affects approximately 3 percent of teenagers, but typically the cause is unclear. The degree of spinal curvature is, for the most part, mild (10-15 degree curve), but in some situations, the curve may begin to increase as the child develops.

Visual symptoms of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis include: skewed shoulders, one shoulder blade “sticking out” (more pronounced) than the other; an irregular waist or hip that is higher than the other; and/or a pronounced rib cage, typically on the convex side of the curve.

When the curve is small, symptoms are often few if any. If the curve deteriorates, however, the child will face difficulties which may require care. Complications associated with scoliosis arise mainly in people with larger curves and involve heart and/or lung complications due to shortening of the spine and weakening of the rib cage as the curve progresses, making it difficult for the heart to pump or for the lungs to expand. Individuals with scoliosis can also experience chronic back pain and other musculoskeletal problems due to changes in the spinal conditions.

In order to assess the degree of spinal curvature more precisely, scoliosis is diagnosed after a routine medical history and physical examination, as well as standing x-rays of the lower and middle back. Treatment may not be required in mild cases; but, if the condition deteriorates or in more serious cases, normal medical care may involve wearing a back brace, or perhaps even surgery.

Is Osteopathy offering an approach to scoliosis care? Researchers studied the case history of 60 patients diagnosed with scoliosis in an Osteopathic environment in a report published in January 2017. Patients were offered a mix of Osteopathic spinal manipulation and exercise methods including cantilever, postural weighting, fulcrum block, and ball exercises for rotating torso therapy. The findings revealed positive outcomes in 38 percent of patients in 90 percent of cases, with 52 percent of patients experiencing curve correction and curve stabilisation. This adds to existing research and case reports regarding the effectiveness of both behavioural activities and manual therapies for scoliosis treatment.

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