Conditions & Advice: Scoliosis
Scoliosis refers to the lateral deviation of the spine, but this oversimplifies what is a complex 3-dimensional deformity, with exaggerated spinal curves and rotation of the pelvis all contributing to distortion of the internal organs, especially the lungs. “ Idiopathic ” scoliosis (meaning of unknown cause) accounts for approximately 90% of structural (i.e. long term) scoliosis. Within idiopathic scoliosis there are infantile, juvenile and adolescent types, of which the adolescent type is by far the most common.
Treatment depends upon the severity of the curve and the age of the patient. Osteopaths are trained to assess a patient in the clinic for the presence of scoliosis and at Church Street Practice we have a Scoliometer to measure the angle of trunk rotation. You must see your GP for referral to have the curve measured by standing X-ray to determine the precise degree of lateral curve.
Options include bracing, surgery and exercises. There are no clear winners in terms of effectiveness. Neither bracing nor surgery offer significant positive impact, according to research. However, the ‘vicious cycle' hypothesis (Negrini et al, 2007) suggests that an idiopathic scoliosis tends to get worse with growth, so bracing during the peak growth years (12-15) should theoretically limit the progression of an existing scoliosis, even if it does not reduce it. Bracing combined with a focused exercise regime would seem to offer the best prospects, using internal muscle strength and external support to optimise the development of the spine.
Osteopathy can support the growing patient, encouraging the normal development of the spine, easing pain and helping the internal organs to function as well as possible. We also consider factors beyond the spine, such as the development of the jaws and the impact of the function of the spine and pelvis on the feet. We are familiar with the different types of braces and can direct you to appropriate specialists (in bracing and surgery) to discuss your options.
- Scoliosis Association UK: http://www.sauk.org.uk/
- ISICO Evidence based approach to spinal deformities: http://www.isico.it/ukcosa.htm