Treating scoliosis depends on various factors such as the severity of the curve, age of the patient and physical condition. Before arriving at a specific treatment, the following questions need to be answered and analyzed:
- What is the spinal maturity?
- What is the age of the patient?
- Is the spine still growing?
- What is the degree and extent of spinal curvature?
- Where is the curvature located?
Based on the assessment, generally, there are three treatment options for scoliosis depending on the condition of the patient including:
- Scoliosis observation
Observation is the initial treatment option for scoliosis. It is only needed for patients with minor curves in the spine of less than 25 degrees and those who have no symptoms at all. Scoliosis development during maturity is also deemed to be minor because the lateral curvature is less likely to get worse because the spine has already reached maturity. During observation, pain and other discomforts should be monitored because the onset of pain may actually mean worsening condition requiring further treatments.
- Scoliosis Bracing
Bracing is the next line of treatment for patients having 25 to 40 degrees of lateral spine curvature. Bracing is also best for people who are still growing such as the pubertal teens because braces are needed to guide the straight growth or development of the vertebrae. Braces will also prevent the curve from getting worse as the spine is still developing. Bracing is also prescribed for those who have thoracic scoliosis because thoracic scoliosis has increased risk for progression compared to thoracolumbar or lumbar scoliosis.
- Scoliosis Surgery
Scoliosis surgery is deemed necessary for people with severe skeletal deformation of more than 45 degrees and don’t respond to scoliosis bracing. Severe lateral curvature should be corrected through surgery because it tends to compress organs in the thoracic cavity such as the lungs and the heart. Spinal surgery has two main objectives: 1. To correct the deformity in the spine and 2. To prevent the curve from worsening. Surgery usually involves spinal fusion on the level of the curvature to hold the spine in a straight position without further movement.
Aside from the three main treatments, patients can also seek adjunct treatments in the form of alternative therapies such as:
- Physical therapy
Physical therapy has not been seen to directly reverse scoliosis; however, it can be used to reduce pain and discomforts and improve the mobility of patients especially those who are suffering from severe curvature. Various physical therapy techniques can be used to improve the overall well-being of clients.
- Chiropractic care
Chiropractic care usually helps patients with acute and short-term pain and may help patients stay away from surgery.
- Acupuncture and acupressure
Acupuncture and acupressure cannot directly address scoliosis, but certain people reports relief from back pain due to the condition.
Certain yoga positions can help increase the flexibility of the spine; however, there are also those that are deemed detrimental for those having spinal deformities. Talk to your orthopedic physician before employing yoga.
Lastly, massage can also offer pain relief by relaxing the muscles that have been spastic due to the curvature of the spine.
The treatment options for scoliosis are vast so before deciding on what treatment modality is right for you, seek medical consult for appropriate diagnosis.