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Scoliosis Awareness – Understanding Treatment Parameters

Dr. Anand Blog

June 14th, 2018

With June as the established awareness month for Scoliosis, now seems like a great time to readdress the commonly held myths that surround the “right” treatment for scoliosis and when. With a decades-established practice specializing in the diagnosis and minimally invasive treatment of people who have debilitating scoliosis, we highly value the Internet as a source of information. Unfortunately, that information isn’t always reliable from a medical perspective, and it often isn’t backed by scientific data. At times, misleading or outright deceptive advertising can confuse or unnecessarily worry someone who is looking for a solution and wants clinically-proven treatment options for their scoliosis diagnosis. While the majority of scoliosis diagnoses are considered idiopathic (a medical term for “no known cause”), spine health experts do know quite a bit about the treatment options for it, including the most and the least effective methods.

Scoliosis Awareness – Understanding Treatment Parameters

Observation: Receiving a scoliosis diagnosis can be alarming for some, which may lead to attempts to find the quickest way to reverse the condition. However, especially for those who are newly diagnosed and not experiencing symptoms related to scoliosis itself, treating it right away is rarely necessary. You see, they type of scoliosis treatment a physician recommends has to do with the degree of curvature of the spine. If the curve is less than 25 degrees and you aren’t experiencing any discomfort as a result, then careful observation at regular check-ups may be all that is necessary.

Exercise: Performing a Google search of the terms "scoliosis exercise," will likely yield thousands of links to articles and videos pointing you to the "best" exercise for treating scoliosis. Some of this information even claims to reverse or cure it. But this is simply untrue. In reality, without input and guidance from a licensed physician, some exercises can even do more harm than good. This doesn’t mean that exercise is pointless for people living with scoliosis. It absolutely can be helpful. Many people who are living with scoliosis indeed find some relief from scoliosis discomfort by engaging in low impact activities like yoga, walking, and swimming. But the concept that any exercise can "cure" scoliosis hasn't been validated by independent scientific research.

Bracing: There are a variety of devices available today that may aid in preventing a spinal scoliosis curvature from worsening. In some cases, physicians will advise patients to wear a brace, especially if the person is still growing and has a 20-40 degree of spinal curvature. The critical points to note here are age and potential for further growth. Bracing is not clinically proven to reverse curve progression, and its efficacy has also been shown to decline quite a bit after puberty begins, especially in women.

Surgery: Doctors may suggest surgery to correct a spinal curve or stop it from worsening when the curve is greater than 45 degrees and the curve is deteriorating and also if the person is still growing. Also, surgery might be a suggestion if the person with it is also experiencing pain or other discomfort or reduced quality of life as a direct result of scoliosis. Surgical correction of scoliosis involves fusing together two or more bones in the spine and may also include the use of other implantable devices. While surgery to correct a scoliosis curve is not risk-free, some minimally-invasive options have made this a practical, less-painful and life-saving treatment for many people living with scoliosis worldwide.
Have you or someone you know been diagnosed with scoliosis? We encourage you to learn all you can about the condition from reputable sources that support their claims with scientific research. To further ensure you’re receiving the best advice, it’s a good idea to set up a consultation with a board-certified doctor who specializes in the treatment of scoliosis and other spinal deformities for the most accurate and updated information.

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