When a person has scoliosis, the spine curves sideways. Usually, this happens during the stages before puberty when there is a growth spurt. There are also other conditions that can cause scoliosis such as muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy. Nevertheless, most of the cases of scoliosis have unknown causes. As for the treatment for scoliosis, we will focus on answering the question: can scoliosis be treated without surgery? We will share with you several options for nonsurgical scoliosis treatments.
Symptoms of Scoliosis
Most of the scoliosis cases are mild. However, there can be cases when a child can develop deformities of the spine. This can get worse as they grow. When the scoliosis becomes severe, it can affect how the person functions in everyday life. For example, when the spinal curve is really bad, then the space for the lungs becomes reduced. It will then be challenging for the person’s lungs to properly function.
Some of the symptoms of scoliosis include uneven shoulders. This is when one of the shoulder blades look like it is higher than the other. Another is uneven waist; where one of the hips also appears higher compared to the other. With a worsening condition of scoliosis, the person’s spine may also twist or rotate, apart from it curving from one side to the other. When this happens, one side of the body’s ribs will be sticking out more than the other.
Complications Caused by Scoliosis
For bad cases of scoliosis, the person may experience complications. Such health issues include appearance, back problems, and heart and lung damage. A person’s appearance may change because of scoliosis, such as uneven shoulders and hips, prominent ribs, and a shift of the trunk and the waist to the side. Scoliosis also affects the person’s self-confidence because they become more conscious of how they look and the changes in their bodies as those become more noticeable with the severity of the scoliosis.
Back problems are also another complication. Adults who developed scoliosis when they where children most commonly experience chronic pain in the back as they grow older. Lastly, heart and lung damage is a complication that people with scoliosis should be mindful of. This health issue emerges because the rib cage presses against the heart and lungs. This makes it a challenge for the person to breath and for the heart to pump hard.
Can Scoliosis be Treated Without Surgery?
So far, there are three options that prove to treat people with scoliosis. One is observation, the other is bracing, and the third is surgery. The doctor will be able to tell you which of these three will be the best treatment for your type of scoliosis. It mostly depends on how severe the scoliosis is, and if the patient is a child, then the physical maturity is also taken into account.
Bracing as Scoliosis Treatment
As we will focus on scoliosis treatments without surgery, we will talk about bracing as well as other options. When it comes to bracing, most patients that have scoliosis do not necessarily need to wear one. But if the patient is an adolescent and is showing signs that the curve of the spine is continue to worsen, then the doctor may recommend that he or she wear a back brace. This brace is designed especially so that it can prevent the curve from getting worse as the spine of the patient grows.
Many studies have shown that bracing as scoliosis treatment helps a great deal in keeping the curve of the spine from growing too much that it would need surgery to be corrected. The spinal curve will get smaller because the brace holds it in the right position. For many cases, the curve of the spine remains small even after the patient stops wearing braces. The effectiveness of the brace to treat scoliosis depends on the length of time that it is worn. It is recommended that the brace be worn for 16 hours each day to prevent the need for surgery.
Physical Therapy as Treatment for Scoliosis
There are currently no studies supporting physical therapy as an effective treatment for scoliosis. There are various methods of physical therapy that can help in improving the overall look of the body. It may help in making the body look straighter. The patient’s breathing can also improve with the help of physical therapy. But at present, there is still very little evidence that can say for sure that physical therapy can stop the spinal curve from growing worse.
Chiropractic Treatment for Scoliosis
Chiropractic treatment for people with scoliosis is still quite controversial. But it seems to help plenty of patients with scoliosis when it comes to treating pain but only for the short term. If the pain is chronic, chiropractic treatment may not suffice. If you are considering getting a chiropractic treatment, talk to your doctor first. The doctor should ideally be a neurosurgeon or spinal orthopedist. He or she will be able to explain this treatment and its effects further, and whether or not it will help your condition.
Yoga for Managing Back Problems
There are many types of yoga systems. But basically, most of these systems can help in improving the body, especially the muscles. This is done through breathing exercises, holding positions, and stretching. Meditation is also a part of yoga. Although there are no hard proofs that yoga can effectively treat scoliosis, you may experience some relief from back pains if you do yoga. Also, it will help your general health, both physically and mentally.
These are the various nonsurgical treatments for scoliosis. The answer to the question: can scoliosis be treated without surgery highly depends on the severity of the scoliosis of the person. Depending on the curvature of the spine, braces may be enough to make corrections and stop the spinal curve from getting worse. But if the condition of the spine is severe, then the doctor may recommend surgery to correct it. Other nonsurgical treatments have some benefits although they are not proven through rigorous studies. If you intend to try any of them, do talk to your physician first and tell him or her about your plan to try such treatments.
Dr. Tymothy L. Flory graduated from Logan College of Chiropractic in St. Louis, Missouri. Before opening Atlas Brain Spine, Dr. Flory practiced Upper Cervical Chiropractic in Seattle, Washington. Dr. Flory completed Board Certification of the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association in 2012 and is currently a Credentialed Instructor for the organization.